How to give a effective massage to your baby?
Even before a baby can see or hear things the baby develops the sense of touch. It is one of the earliest senses, which the baby adapts to. A baby communicates and interacts with the world through touch. Skin-to-skin contact is the best way to develop a strong and secure relationship with your baby and massage is the best form to do so.
It helps relax and soothe your baby and it is the best way to show your love. Massage has other additional benefits too. It helps in developing your baby’s motor skills, enhances physical development, relaxes limbs and arms, improves weight gain, digestion and eases teething pain.
Massage is the gentle stroking of the body of the baby usually with the use of massage oils or lotions made especially for babies. It can have a very therapeutic and calming effect on your baby. The calming strokes also help in the release of the hormone oxytocin that gives a warm and loving feeling.
It keeps you close to your baby. Dads who miss out on the opportunity of such contact can also restore it by massaging their little ones instead of the mother, it gives them a chance to stay closer and develop a bond with the baby.
How to give a massage?
The best time to massage your baby is when he is well-rested and alert. A baby shouldn’t be massaged immediately after his last feeding; there should be a gap of at least 45 minutes from the last feeding. Just after a bath or when he is just about to be tucked in for his sleep is also a good time for a relaxing massage. For a good and relaxing massage, it is necessary to have a comfortable and undisturbed setting with minimal lighting and free of distractions.
Choose a large surface like a bed and spread out a towel for your baby to roll in. Undress your baby to his diapers. In a playful manner, you can ask or hint for a massage and wait for your baby to respond. It may sound funny, but it increases your baby’s attention towards you and also develops a routine. Warm a tiny squirt of massage oil or lotion and rub it between your hands before applying.
You can start by gentling applying soft pressure on his legs till he gets accustomed to the sensation. Then you can slowly try to move her hands and arms and massage her chest and tummy by gently placing your hand’s flats against the center of her body.
You can proceed to her head and forehead by gently moving your fingers outward the forehead. And finally, you can turn your baby and massage his back and trace clockwise circles on his back and then move slowly towards stroking his buttocks. Keep going on as long your baby enjoys it. Read your baby’s cues and stop if your baby gets cranky or fussy.
Massage not only helps in the emotional or physical development of the baby but also in the overall growth. It helps them to relieve stress and anxiety associated with the new birth for the mother as well as the new environment for the baby.
On an emotional level, it gives a new level of confidence and instills trust in your relationship and promotes attachment with your baby. It helps in the release of hormones like oxytocin and endorphins that helps in bond-building and reducing pain. With massages, babies tend to cry and fuss less and sleep better.
Sometimes, the father also can give a massage to his child. It mainly gives a chance to bond with their baby, an opportunity they usually miss out on. The gentle stroke on their body makes them giggle, which fills their parents with immense joy. They relish that cute little giggle of their baby.
It encourages a wordless interaction between you and your baby. It also helps a mother to deal with postnatal depression. It has been observed that by massaging and spending more time with their baby a mother’s stress and levels of depression have reduced.
On a physical level, it enhances the motor skills of a baby. When a baby’s arms and legs are gently massaged it leads to muscle relaxation and joints flexibility and better movement. Joints flexibility helps them to crawl and walk properly and engage in other physical movements.
It also increases their blood circulation and develops their whole circulatory system and decreases the pain of acidity, gas or teething. It also helps in digestion and stimulates the baby’s nervous system. It also stimulates the vagus nerve that helps in bowel movement weight gain etc.
In the case of premature babies, it has been observed that it resulted in improved signs of weight gain by stimulating the vagus nerve and also a stable heartbeat.
Massage can be beneficial when a baby has a cough or congestion too. By rubbing some oil or lotion gentle on your baby’s chest in concentric circles can help relieve the congestion and soothe him.
Massage also helps to get rid of hiccups by placing the baby in an upright position and massaging from her lower back to her shoulders in concentric circles. Massaging your baby’s gums while teething also helps in alleviating a lot of pain.
Giving a massage to your baby helps you feel empowered and gives you the confidence and sensitivity to an infant’s cues. It strengthens the bond between you and the child and binds you in a secure attachment.