The sense of touch can bring comfort, security, and bonding to a newborn baby. For a mother, breastfeeding provides skin-to-skin contact and thus helps her create a bond with her baby. But when it comes to other caregivers, newborn baby massage can be a powerful tool to connect, apart from all the emotional and developmental benefits of massaging a baby. This article will help you answer all your questions about massaging your little one.
What is Baby Massage?
Massaging a baby is the act of gently stroking the body of your baby in a rhythm. Usually, a mild non-chemical oil is used to reduce friction and help keep the baby’s body moisturized. Massaging is part of many kids' bathing and sleep time routines and continues until the baby starts walking.
When to Start Baby Massage?
Newborn babies look so tiny and delicate that, at times, first-time parents are a little scared even to hold the baby. So, if you are wondering when to start oil massages for your newborn baby, the answer is - if your baby has a healthy birth weight, you can start massaging them as soon as the umbilical cord stump falls off. This usually happens after 2 weeks. This is because the chances of oil and dirt getting trapped in the stump and causing infections are high.
In the case of premature babies, doctors advise that you wait till they reach the average birth weight or till the actual due date of the mother to start massaging them.
Best Time for Newborn Baby Massage
When to massage your baby mostly depends on their and your preference. However, there are a few things that you must keep in mind to make the whole experience fun for both of you instead of making it a daily chore.
Choose to massage your baby when they are well-rested, alert, and in a good mood. Avoid massaging for at least 45 minutes after a feed, and do not feed the baby for 15 minutes till after the massage to give them some time to relax.
Many parents prefer to massage their baby before bath time to wash off the oil. Babies also sleep better if a light massage is given before bedtime.
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Which Are the Best Oils for Baby Massage?
The choice of oil depends on the weather condition, your baby’s skin type, and special conditions (if any) that suit their massaging needs. Ensure you choose an oil that is season-specific to avoid any irritation or discomfort to the baby.
Oils Good for Massaging in the Summers
1. Coconut Oil – It has a light texture and a cooling effect on the body. It gets easily absorbed into the skin and keeps the skin moisturized, and protects against fungal and bacterial infections during summer. Coconut oil also provides natural protection against heat rashes and prickly heat for babies.
2. Sesame Oil – One of the best oils for summer massages, sesame oil is light and keeps the baby comfortable. It also helps in developing stronger bones.
Oils are Good for Massaging in the Winters
1. Almond Oil – Rich in vitamin E, almond oil is not suitable only for winters, but it is an all-season oil. It is mild and safe for the delicate skin of babies and keeps the skin soft and supple.
2. Olive Oil – It is one of the most popular oils among parents for massaging babies. It is light and suitable for skin as well as hair.
3. Mustard Oil is a very heavy oil; thus, it is suitable only during winter. If you want to use mustard oil to massage your baby, you should initially mix it with another light oil such as almond oil or coconut oil to ensure that it does not have any side effects on your baby’s skin.
What to Avoid for Massaging Your Baby
Experts advise avoiding using peanut oil for massaging a baby. Although there is no evidence that peanut oil can cause allergies in kids with nut allergies, some parents have experienced this. It is also not safe to use unprescribed medicated creams, creams, moisturizers meant for adults, and essential oils to use for massaging your baby.
How To Give Your Newborn Baby A Massage
One thing that a lot of new parents worry about is how to massage their newborn. While it is no rocket science, and going as per the liking and comfort of your baby is a must, here is a quick step-by-step process you can follow:
Before you get started, make your baby wear a comfortable and breathable nappy or langot and make them lie on a soft surface. SuperBottoms Dry Feel Langot can be your baby’s comfort partner during massage time.
• Start with massaging the legs
Before massaging your baby, smile at them, and see if they are in a happy and active mood and ready to be massaged. Then, take some oil from your palm and rub it between your hands. Next, take one leg at a time in your hands and gently massage from thigh to feet. Do not apply too much pressure. Massage in circular motions, and do not forget to massage the feet, those tiny toes, and soles.
• Move to the arms
Repeat the same circular motions and massage with the arms. Next, massage the palm and fingers. Massage time can also be a time to introduce them to different textures simultaneously. For example, make them hold your finger, a toy, a soft cloth, etc., to help them develop their sense of touch.
• Chest and shoulders
Massaging the chest of a newborn needs no pressure. It is just like applying oil in circular motions with very gentle hands. Next, massage the shoulders and help your baby gently move the arms in a circular motion for some mild stretching and exercise.
• Tummy massage for colic relief
Many kids suffer from colic pain in the initial months until they are not on solids. Massaging the tummy in clockwise circular motions and moving the legs in cycling motion can help babies pass trapped gas and relieve the colic pain. Make tummy massage a routine, even on days you skip massaging for any reason.
• The back
After giving your baby a tummy massage for colic relief, give them some tummy time. This further helps with colic relief and helps them in strengthening their neck strength too. Make them lie down on their tummy and gently massage their back from top to bottom.
• Face and head
Babies don’t need a head massage. However, applying oil on the days, you are giving them a head wash and gently stroking the scalp with your fingers helps improve blood circulation and get rid of the cradle cap. Similarly, apply little oil on the face and run your fingers around the face in a playful manner. Your baby might enjoy this playful massage a lot.
Benefits of Baby Massage
There are several health benefits of massaging your baby, which include
• Relieves stress, relaxes muscles
Colic is a big issue with newborn babies. Massage for newborn babies can help in relaxing and getting rid of colic pain.
• Helps the baby sleep better
A relaxed baby sleeps better. Thus, giving a massage before bath or bedtime ensures a peaceful nap or a good night’s sleep for your baby.
• Stimulates the nervous system
Massages help develop gross motor skills in younger babies by stimulating their nervous system and strengthening their muscles.
• Improved muscle tone and range
Massaging the muscles and the massage's systematic rhythm also improves the little ones' muscle tone.
• Brain development
Massages are not all about physical development. Using the time to communicate and bond with your baby also makes them aware of their bodies and their people.
• Improves eye contact
If the caregiver is talking to the baby and engaging them while massaging, it also helps develop eye contact and attention of babies.
• Helps in dealing with postpartum depression
Massaging the baby is helpful for babies and parents. Spending time with the baby, massaging them, talking to them, and bonding with them also helps deal with postpartum depression for parents.
Some Useful Tips
Here are some tips to make the whole massaging experience comfortable and safe for your little one –
• Massage gently. Do not apply too much pressure as the idea is to relax the baby.
• Try to make a routine and stick to that routine. This will help the baby know what to expect.
• Do not indulge in elaborate massages as that can harm the skin tissues of the baby. Instead, keep the message short and sweet.
• Wipe off any excess oil from the baby’s body to avoid attracting any dirt and grime.
Massaging can be a fun bonding experience for you with your baby and can only bring you closer. Thus, making you comfortable and cozy during and after the massage for your baby is vital. So, wrap them in snuggles with SuperBottoms Swaddle wraps after the massage for a relaxed time!
1. Comfort: Massages are essential because the sense of touch can provide comfort, stability, and bonding for a newborn baby.
2. Routine: Make it a part of many toddlers' bathing and sleeping routines, and continue it until the infant learns to walk.
3. Select Right: Choose a seasonally appropriate oil to avoid causing irritation or discomfort to the infant.
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