Giving your baby a massage not only advances weight gain, improves your baby’s digestion, blood circulation, and eases his teething pain, but it’s also a great way for you as parents to physically connect with your baby.
Infant massage is basically stroking your baby's body with your hands in a tender, rhythmic manner. Use oils or a moisturiser to help your hands to glide smoothly over your baby's skin. You can start by mildly massaging your baby's ankles, wrists and fingers. Most parents talk softly, sing or hum to their baby while massaging, which can make the mood more comforting for baby.
The soothing strokes of your hands enable the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone in your baby and even yourself. Oxytocin gives you that warm, loving feeling when you hold your baby close or breastfeed him.
Here’s why you should give your baby a massage
Massage may help your baby to develop his cognitive skills, social interactions, and overall physical well-being. Massage can also help your baby stay calm and not get upset all the time, which reduces fussing and crying and improves the quality and quantity of sleep (for both of you).
Once you start giving your baby a massage, you will begin to notice that it improves your mood and helps you to feel more empowered as a parent. Your baby’s daily massage can serve as your special bonding time together. While doing your massage, chatting and making eye contact with your baby comes naturally, and it improves your emotional bond.
It’s more proper to give your baby a massage when he is between feeds, when he won't be too hungry or too full. Giving him a massage before his nap time is not recommended. Make sure that he is awake, but settled during massage time. If your baby is silently observant and attentive to her environment, it means he’s ready to cooperate with you.
You may constantly end up waiting for a chance for giving a massage if your baby is sleeping and feeding often, but don’t worry. You'll eventually learn to know when your baby is most willing to have a massage. You may find it best to make it part of your baby's bedtime routine, most likely after a bath and before a bedtime feed. This will help your baby to wind down after an energetic day and become calm, ready for sleep.
How to do it properly
Use oil or cream to make it easier for your hands to glide over your baby's skin. You can use a baby moisturiser, vegetable oil, baby mineral oil or a medical emollient, particularly if your baby has dry skin or eczema. Vegetable oils, such as safflower oil, that are high in linoleic acid are gentler to your baby's skin than oils high in oleic acid, such as olive oil.
Whichever oil or cream you use, it's advisable to dab a little on your baby's skin first, just in case he has a reaction. Perform this patch test the day before you plan to start giving your baby a massage.
If you and your baby are both beginners when it comes to massaging, you may just want to massage your baby's legs until he gets used to the sensation. It's a good place to start because your baby is used to having his legs caressed during daily nappy changes.
After that, try to establish a pattern, perhaps massaging your baby's legs before his arms, hands and body. Your baby will be able to acknowledge and take pleasure out of this routine, and eventually he'll find it consoling to know what's coming next.
Understanding your baby's signals is the most important piece of giving a massage. Your baby will tell you when the massage needs to end and which strokes he enjoys or feel uncomfortable with. If your baby starts to cry during the massage, he is telling you that he has had enough and it’s time for a wear clothes.
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