Sense of touch is very important to babies. It is one way in which they communicate with you and you with them. Remember when your baby first entered this world, he was placed on your stomach, skin to skin – this is to soothe the baby and make him less anxious. That is exactly why cuddles are important and why babies stop crying when they are picked up and held close. Massages for babies can be soothing and comforting. In addition to bonding with your baby and spending some quality time together, massages can help with a host of things like help relieve colic, aid digestion, increase muscle suppleness and muscle tone, skin texture and helps stimulate the nervous system. If these reasons are not reasons enough, a good massage before bedtime will make sure your baby sleeps into the night comfortably.
The best time to start baby massages as a regular routine is when your baby is 1 month old. As your baby is born, his skin barrier will be underdeveloped, rather sensitive and is not completely water tight. This should all change around 15 days after he is born. It is also around this time that his umbilical stump would fall off, which is a good time, since there is no risk of infections to his umbilical cord with the use of baby lotions or oil. Any ‘massage’ before this would be just soft, light stokes on his body on top of clothes.
When should you massage your baby?
Generally, a bed time, pre-wash massage routine would be a good option, however, if your baby has very dry skin, an after-wash massage would double as a good moisturizing routine and help lock-in the moisture. You can also try it out during the day and have a ‘clothes free time’. Make sure you baby is in a good mood and alert, so not sleepy and cranky. You should ideally be massaging your baby in between feeds when you baby is neither very full nor very hungry. Remember to also make sure you don’t feed your baby right afterwards and give your baby at least 15 minutes to wind down after the massage since your baby would be quite stimulated after the massage.
What products can I use?
Baby cream or baby oil would both be good options.
Setting Up for Massage
Make sure your nails are cut are filed.
You need a comfortable flat space, make sure that you are not on any changing tables and the like where your baby can roll over or fall over crawling. Good options would be a bed or a soft carpeted floor. Remember to place a towel or cot sheet that will absorb any excess oil.
Keep all your supplies close to you – within reach, so that you don’t need to look for them and leave your baby unsupervised or interrupt the massage.
Step-by-Step Massage Instructions
After you’re finished, wipe your baby down gently with a tissue to remove any excess residue of the cream or oil you were using.
Double check with your General Physician, Paediatrician and or midwife if you have any queries regarding the care of your baby. Information on this article is meant to be a general guideline. Advice on newborn care and childcare on this article are not meant to be substituted for a doctor’s or medical caregiver’s advice.