Massaging is one of the finest ways to calm and soothe your baby. Massage also offers immense health benefits to a baby. It helps enhance blood circulation, helps in weight gain, and helps in digestion. It also eases teething problems for a baby. But if you’re a new parent, you’ll have some questions about massaging your baby. We’ve created a guide on the benefits and techniques to tell you everything you need to know about baby massages.
How to massage a baby?
A baby massage is the soft rhythmic stroking of the baby’s body with hands by using baby massage oil or lotions. A massage can be soothing for babies while also providing an opportunity for the parent to bond with their little one. This Mommunity article will tell you about the benefits of massage for a baby, methods to do massage safely, and more.
When To Start Massaging The Baby?
There is a common opinion that the infants must complete one month of their life before they get a massage. However, there are no set rules regarding the minimum age to start massaging a baby. But the baby’s underdeveloped skin barrier takes 15 days to become water-resistant.
At about 15 days of age, babies discard their umbilical cord stub. Until then, it can be an infectious if any massage oil gets trapped in it. Hence, it is advised to wait until the baby is six weeks old to start massaging the baby.
Benefits Of Massaging The Baby
Various natural benefits of massaging the baby are:
1. Reduces stress, relaxes muscles: Massage reduces stress in babies by relaxing their muscles, encouraging their growth, and they work particularly great with colicky babies.
2. Stimulates nervous system: Massage is beneficial to the baby’s nervous system since it considerably improves the baby’s motor skills development.
3. Helps baby sleep better: It has several benefits from easier muscle gain to improved immune system. Infants who are massaged just before bedtime generate more melatonin – a sleep-regulating hormone.
4. Improves the quality of life for differently-abled babies: Premature babies show better motor development when they are massaged regularly. They gain more weight as compared to premature babies that are never massaged. Babies born to depressed mothers cry less and show greater emotional and social development, when massaged as they grow.
5. Enhanced blood circulation: Massage improves the blood circulation and also decreases the level of discomfort caused by gas or acidity, congestion, and teething. Massage benefits the digestive system by stimulating the nerves that pass through the digestive tract.
6. Takes care of postnatal depression: Massage could be a compelling way to deal with postnatal depression among mothers. Massaging display’s increased involvement in baby’s care and interaction with babies. Hence, depressed mothers show improved mood and behavior when they massaged their babies at regular intervals.
Best Time To Massage Your Baby
The most ideal time to massage a baby is before a bath, since you can wash away the oil during the bath to prevent the accumulation of residual oil or lotion on the baby’s sensitive skin. You may choose to massage your baby after bath in case they have extremely dry skin or if your pediatrician has agreed to it. Usually, you’ll observe it benefits the most, if a regular bedtime routine of massaging the baby at night is followed.
How To Massage A Baby?
Start massaging your baby with the following setup:
Sit on a bed or soft carpeted floor with a towel in front of you to absorb the extra oil.
Maintain a comfortable room temperature. Babies can become cranky quickly. Ensure that the room is warm during winters and make sure there is proper circulation of cool and fresh air in the room during summers.
The massage should be done under natural light if possible.
Select oils specifically made for babies which are unscented, with natural fragrances and no added perfumes.
Here is a step-by-step guide to massage a baby the right way:
Step 1: Seeking the permissionThe foremost step is to take your baby’s ‘permission’. The easiest way to do this is by applying some oil in your palms and rubbing it gently on the baby’s tummy and behind the ears and observing their body language. If the baby repels being touched or grumbles and cries when massaging, then it’s probably not the right time yet. If the baby shows positive signs and seems okay it means you can go ahead with the massage.
Step 2: Massaging the legs
Start with massaging the baby’s feet. Then, stroke the bottom and top of the baby’s foot using your palm. Slowly, make circles all over the bottom of each foot and then to the toes with your thumb. Lift one leg and make gentle strokes on the ankle and slowly extend it towards the thighs. Gently stroke from the foot towards the thigh. You can also massage both legs in one go if your baby is calm and relaxed.
Step 3: Moving to the arms
The pattern of massaging arms is similar to that of the legs. Make circular strokes on the baby’s palms. Slowly make small strokes, moving towards the tips of the fingers. Turn the baby’s hand around and now gently massage the back of the hand with straight strokes towards the wrist. Then, softly massage the wrists in a circular motion, like putting on bangles.
Step 4: Chest and shoulder massage
Make gentle strokes in an order from the left and right shoulder towards the chest of the baby, and then move your hand back to the shoulder. Repeat the motion gently. Next, rub the baby’s chest at the center using both your hands moving outwards from the body – towards the lateral side. Make gentle strokes from the bottom of the chest bone, across the chest, as if tracing the heart shape.
Step 5: Time for tummy massage
Make clockwise circular strokes all around the belly button by placing your palm gently below the chest bone. Never apply pressure on their tummy and let your hand gently glide across the belly. Avoid massaging the belly button and continue the circular motions in a clockwise direction.
Step 6: Massaging face and head
Start by placing your index finger at the center of your baby’s forehead and slowly stroking along the outline of the face towards the chin. From the chin, move your finger and massage the cheeks gently in a circular motion. Repeat the strokes a few times.
Start massaging the scalp after you’re done massaging the face, with the fingertip as if you are shampooing the baby’s hair. Apply gentle pressure from your fingertip since the baby’s skull is delicate.
Step 7: The back
Place your fingertips on the baby’s upper back and make circular clockwise motions while slowly moving towards the buttocks. Then, place your index finger and middle finger on both sides of the upper spine and gently move the fingers all the way to the buttocks. Do not place the fingers on the spine. Repeat the strokes a few times. Then massage the baby’s shoulder blades with gentle clockwise circular strokes, and end the massage with this last stroke.
Baby Massage Tips
Here are few tips you should keep in mind while massaging your baby:
- In case your baby becomes cranky, then just skip that massage step and move to the next one. If you feel the baby is still irritable, then stop the massage.
- Do not apply too much pressure on the baby’s body since their bones and tissues are very delicate. Always be gentle during a massage and do not massage the genitals or around the groin area.
- In order to keep the baby interested in the activity, speak, laugh, and smile while massaging your baby.
- Wipe away the oil on the baby’s palms and fingers using a tissue paper after you’re done.
- Try to establish a routine with a fixed time for the massage. This will make the baby more comfortable during a massage.
When Should You Stop Massaging The Baby?
You can keep massaging the baby as long as you want since there is no fixed age to stop massaging. A lot of mothers stop massaging when their little one’s transition from a baby to a toddler.
Massage is an excellent way of enhancing the bond with your baby while also enabling them to grow better. Follow a routine for massage and consult your doctor in case of doubts or queries.
Published on: 24th August 2021