Long before you’re able to speak to your baby, you can communicate through touch. In addition to helping you bond, baby massage is a pleasant way to sooth and calm your baby. We often calm crying babies by cuddling them and stroking their backs. That’s the power of touch; which can be harnessed even further through massage.
The massage can start as soon as the baby is born, with the exception of premature babies. Those should be let to develop fully before attempting a massage. Baby massage enhances positive interaction with the baby and gives a new mother confidence in handling him/her. Other family members can be involved in the massage too, further helping them bond with the new member of the family.
After a massage, your baby should be calm, relaxed and is able to breastfeed and sleep better. Babies with special needs such as those suffering from celebral palsy or downs syndrome also benefit greatly from a regular massage.
New moms are reluctant to attempt a massage. Looking at your tiny and fragile baby, it’s easy to assume that the massage might cause pain and discomfort. When done correctly, baby massage should be nothing but fun and relaxing. Here are some pointers to help you along:
- The best time for the massage is right after bath. The baby should be content and alert, not hungry, sleepy or tired.
- Pick a suitable baby massage oil from the wide array available in the market. In case of sensitive skin ask for a doctor’s recommendation. Remember some of it may end up in the baby’s mouth, so avoid petroleum based or scented oils.
- Make the massage comfortable for both you and the baby by sitting on the bed or couch with the baby lying on a towel in front of you. Ensure the room is warm enough and avoid overhead lights.
- You can consider going diaper-free for the massage. If you’re cautious of soiling the towel, you can simply loosen the diaper especially when massaging the tummy.
- When massaging the baby’s legs or arms, support the wrist or ankle with one hand. Mold your other hand around the baby’s hand/leg, then slowly and gently stroke up and down. These motions are likened to milking (a cow) for better understanding. The tummy should be massaged in clockwise circular motions.
- Look out for the baby’s reaction. They may not enjoy it right away, but you should not give up. Experiment with different massage techniques. Keep going for a couple of minutes to begin with, and increase gradually incase of positive reaction. Stop the massage if the baby falls asleep.
How long should you keep massaging your baby? Well, even when not such a baby any more. As long as you’re still bathing your child, you can make a massage part of the routine. It will maintain your bond over the years and enhance the overall health of the child. In case of a physical disability or injury, a regular massage will gradually improve the mobility of the affected limbs and make recovery much easier.