There are many ways to express your love to newborn babies. Baby massage is one of them. Babies react instinctively to touch and this can be seen when they curl their fingers and toes as soon as someone or something touches them. Babies react to touch much more readily than the other four senses.
Baby massage is one of the best ways to bond with your new-born; it calms and appeases him or her. Massage has been shown to help calm colicky babies, solve wind and other digestive problems. It improves circulation and drainage and stimulates the muscles, cells and skin tissues.
Massaged daily, premature infants develop more rapidly than those who are not massaged. After six weeks, they are more alert and cry less and are more socially and emotionally expressive.
Oils for the massage:
Use natural, pure and mild oil for massaging your baby, which are very sensitive to the baby’s delicate skin.
Plant-derived base oils like grape seeds, sweet almond or coconut oil are the most suitable for baby massage and allow the baby skin to breathe. Many commercial baby oils contain mineral oils which are not easily absorbed by the skin and tend to block the pores. Perfumed products and essential oils should not be used on young babies.
Check for the oil sensitivity by rubbing a tiny amount of the oil onto his or her skin. Leave on for 30 minutes and check to see if there is any reaction. Clean off the baby’s hands with tissue or wet wipes to avoid him or her ingesting the oil. Do the same for your baby's toes.
Right time to do massage:
For massage, choose a time when the baby is alert. If the baby is tired, start after his or her nap. There is nothing to worry if he or she does not seem content the first few times as he or she is not used to the movements and the sounds of the hands.
Start the massage by creating a relaxing atmosphere, free from interruptions. Choose a quiet time and place. Lay your baby down on a mattress or bed, or on your lap and begin. Make eye contact with the baby throughout the massage and talk gently and encouragingly to him or her. The principle of baby massage is generally to work up the arms, legs and tummy, towards the heart.
The baby should not be given the massage when he or she has unexplained swelling or bruising, perhaps from recent injections; or unusual rashes. It is also not advisable to massage the baby when he or she has had a fall, has cut himself, develop new scar tissue, or if he or she has any known heart conditions or high blood pressure. It is best to consult the doctor in case of any doubt.
Remember never to massage baby after his or her feeding. Don’t wake up the baby for a massage. Do not massage a newborn infant at bath time as this can be over-stimulating.
Points to remember prior to baby massage:
• Ensure that you and your baby are relaxed and can remain undisturbed for about 15 minutes set the mood; play gentle music while massaging the baby.
• The room should be kept at a comfortable temperature.
• Remove your jewellery and watch to prevent scratching the baby. Fingernails should also be cut short.
• Keep the movements gentle. Do not apply force as his or her muscles as intense pressure could cause bruising.
• Warm your hands by rubbing them together before touching your baby.
• Pour the oil into an open bowl or container so that you don't have to worry about lids during the massage. Keep the oil at your convenience so that you can easily dip the fingers of one hand into the bowl while your other hand maintains contact with your baby.
• Do not pour oil directly onto your baby's skin.
• If you have long hair, tie it up neatly so that it does not fall onto your baby's body.
• Keep the massage sessions short, usually 15-20 minutes for a full massage.
• If your baby is colicky, there is no need to apply the full procedure of the massage. Just massage his abdomen, which will be hard and distended, in a clockwise circular motion.
• It is better to rub away the oil from your baby's hands which he may put into his mouth.