The age-old tradition of massaging babies has many advantages for both the babies and the mothers. It is a highly prevalent practice in Indian society that has been passed from mother to daughters and generations. It is a great way to express your love, care, and affection for your baby. A massage can soothe the baby and help him stay relaxed and comfortable. It also helps the baby to sleep better and cry less. The gentle, rhythmic and soothing stroke of your hands during a massage stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin in you and your baby. Oxytocin is the hormone that gives you that warm, loving feeling when you hold your baby close or breastfeed her.
Babies love routines and repetition, so if you massage your baby, in the same way, every time, she will learn what to expect and enjoy her massage all the more.
Start your baby’s massage with her feet and work your way up the body finishing with her head.
Legs are a good place to start a massage because your baby is used to having her legs touched during nappy changes.
Coconut oil or cream both can be used however you should warm the oil or cream by rubbing it between your palms.
Massage should be started with thighs to toes in a milking movement. Same pattern should be followed for arms starting from shoulders to fingers.
For your baby’s chest and tummy, do circular clockwise movements. The circular movements on her tummy, done with gentle pressure, can help move things along her digestive tract.
Mothers should also gently push her knees into her tummy by holding baby’s legs below her knees. This will help her pass trapped gas.
Tips for giving your baby a Head Massage:
In India, no baby massage is complete without a head massage. But some babies like having their head touched more than others.
You need to be very gentle with your new-born’s head as her skull bones will not have fused yet. These are called the There are two fontanelles, a larger one on the top and a smaller one at the back of your baby’s head. The back fontanelle closes by the time your baby is about6weeks old but the fontanelle at the top of your baby’s head only close by time
For the first six weeks, do not apply any pressure while giving your baby a head massage. Just pat the oil gently onto all parts of the head and let the oil soak in on its own.
Once your baby’s head hardens, you can gently press with your fingers in small circular movements as you move around your baby’s head. But never apply pressure to the top of your baby’s head where the larger fontanelle is still soft.
As long as your baby cannot hold her own head up, put the oil on her head while she is lying on her back. This way any oil that drips will fall back and not onto her face. Once your baby holds her head up, you can apply oil to her head when she lies on her tummy.
What to do if your baby has a rash or cradle cap?
If your baby has cradle cap, do not pick at it while applying the oil. You will find that if you let the oil sit on your baby’s head overnight, it will help to soften the crust, which should then fall off on its own during the bath or while washing or combing your baby’s hair afterward. Even if it doesn’t, cradle cap doesn’t disturb your baby and is very common. It often goes away on its own as your baby grows.
If your baby has a rash, do not apply any oil or cream to your baby’s skin without first checking with her doctor. If you feel that the rash is caused by the oil or cream you have been using to massage your baby, stop using it and consult her doctor to get advice on which oils or creams will suit the baby.
What to do if your baby has a fever?
Some experts say it is better not to massage your baby if she has a fever or is unwell. But others say that a gentle massage during a viral might help soothe body aches.
If your baby has a fever, take advice from your doctor before giving her a massage.If your baby’s fever is rising, she might feel cold. So you can just rub and stroke her over her clothes, without undressing her.
On the other hand, if her fever is coming down, she might feel hot and prefer to remove her clothes. Observe your baby and try to see what makes her most comfortable.
In winter, you can give your baby a massage. But she will enjoy it only if she doesn’t feel cold. So make sure the room is comfortably warm before undressing her.