The sense of touch is the one sense that is most developed at birth; hence massaging is a great way to bond with your baby. Read on to know more about the benefits of massaging, both for the baby and for new parents, and tips to make your massage perfect for your baby.
Benefits of Baby Massage for Baby
The massage has a calming effect and works wonders towards soothing cranky babies. It is the most effective way that ensures your baby sleeps peacefully. It helps in muscle development and helps relieve stomach pains and teething troubles too.
Baby massage has special benefits for premature babies, which include:
- It stimulates the vagus nerve that connects the brain to other parts of the body including the stomach. It thus serves to improve digestion, helping baby gain weight.
- It helps the baby in developing brain activity by stimulating blood circulation to the brain.
- It ensures a more stable heart rate and a calmer response to pain and stress.
Benefits of Baby Massage for Mom/Dad
Massaging is a wonderful way for a new mom to bond with her baby. As she chats, hums or smiles at her baby, she is forming bonds that will last for a lifetime. It generates Oxytocin, the feel good hormone that uplifts the mom's mood. And so, it helps her come out of postnatal depression. It is one of the calmer parts of the day for the harried new mom. Busy dads can make a ritual of night-time massages to connect with their babies.
The Right Time for Baby Massage
The best time to give a massage is between the feeds when the newborn’s stomach is neither too full nor too empty. Try to stick to a particular time each day so that the baby comes to expect the massage. Scheduling it before or after her bath will ensure that she sleeps well.
How to Massage Your Baby
The basic rule is to use gentle, firm strokes and to move outwards from the center of the baby’s body. Also, remember to balance the actions i.e. followup massaging the right hand by left hand, right leg followed by left leg and so on.
A ‘milking motion’ is great for the baby’s limbs. Use strokes like milking a cow for hands and feet. The ‘open book’ massage is great for her back. Place the baby on her stomach and put your folded hands on the centre of her back. Spread them out in a sweeping motion towards her sides.
Some Tips to Keep in Mind:
- Find a warm room for the baby massage
- Make sure you have enough time (at least half an hour)
- Put away your phone and put on soft music if you want
- Using a massage cream or oil will help your hands glide more easily over the baby
- Opt for an edible oil because the baby's hands will certainly find their way in her mouth. You can choose from corn, olive, coconut or a host of others. Avoid mineral oils (they clog the pores) as well as nut oils (they can cause allergies)
- Be gentle and watch the baby to ensure she's enjoying the massage
- Avoid massaging the baby when he is ill or has been immunized recently
- Remember to perform a ‘patch test’ on a small part of the baby’s skin before you decide on the oil or cream you will be using
- Keep your nappy- changing kit handy
Baby massage is a very powerful technique to boost bond between you and your baby. So, keep these tips in mind to provide comfort as well as relief to your baby. First-time parents may be nervous about this, but with the right guidance you can learn this art very well.