Are you excited about giving your little munchkin a great massage, but nervous about the whens and hows of a baby massage? Worry not! We’ve put together a complete guide to help you with your baby massage woes.
Why does my baby need massages?
A baby massage is beneficial not just for the baby, but also for the parent who massages the baby! It can help improve the mother-baby bond as it involves a lot of touching and caressing. While massaging your baby, you are also conversing with them, and it can make your baby more responsive. In general, baby massages are known to calm and soothe babies. Some studies have also found that a massage reduces stress-inducing hormones in babies and encourages the release of happy hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. That is why many parents include a massage in their baby’s bedtime routine – a baby massage can help you put your baby to sleep. You can include a lukewarm water bath before the massage in the routine to further calm your baby! Oil massages also improve your baby’s skin texture and promote good overall growth of your baby.
When should I start massaging my baby?
Doctors recommend waiting until your newborn’s umbilical stump has dried and fallen off before beginning with an oil massage. This can take anywhere between 5-15 days. If you plan to start with baby massages before their umbilical stump has fallen off, make sure to consult your doctor and avoid the area when massaging your baby to avoid any infections.
How should I massage my baby?
Pick a time when your baby is comfortable and alert. Avoid giving a massage within 45 minutes of feeding your baby, it can irritate your baby. Similarly, if you realize that your baby is crying or stiffening up to your touch, instead of enjoying it, you should stop the massage and pick a time when your baby is ready for it. Remember, a massage should feel like a loving activity you do together with your baby. You can try to schedule your baby massages at the same time every day to set up your little one’s routine.
The most important thing to remember is to be gentle with your strokes while massaging your baby. Your baby’s skin and organs are much more delicate than an adult, and as such, you need to be extra gentle when it comes to massaging them.
Before beginning the massage, it is important to pick the correct massage oil for your baby. You need to steer clear of essential oils and oils that are known skin irritants, like Mustard Oil and Tea Tree Oil. CITTA’s Nourishing Baby Massage Oil is made with 12 natural oils – including Coconut, Ashwagandha, Turmeric, and Brahmi Oil – carefully chosen to provide your baby’s skin with the wholesome nourishment it needs. With anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, our Baby Massage Oil protects your baby’s skin while deeply moisturizing it. It is non-sticky and absorbs easily into your baby’s skin, making baby massages a hassle-free affair.
Lay down your baby on a hard surface lined with a soft towel. You can choose to remove all clothes of your baby except the diaper or to take the diaper off as well, depending on your baby’s comfort. Ensure that the room is warm.
You can start the massage with your baby’s legs, which are less sensitive than other body parts. Take a small quantity of massage oil in your hands, rub it between your palms to warm it slightly, and then apply it on your baby’s legs one by one, starting from their thighs and gently pulling down in a milking motion. Gently stroke the front of their feet and trace circles with your thumb in the soles. Hold each toe between your forefinger and thumb and gently pull to complete the leg massage.
Repeat the gentle milking motions with your baby’s arms, starting from their armpits to their wrists. Rotate the wrists slightly in each direction. Pull each finger and thumb gently, using your forefinger and thumb.
For the chest, begin by positioning your palms in a prayer position over the heart. Now move the hands outward, lightly flattening the palms over the chest, and repeat these strokes a few times. Avoid putting oil on your baby’s umbilical stump, even if it has dried out, as that can lead to infections.
If your baby seems relaxed and comfortable enough, you can roll him/her over and massage the back in long circular strokes on either side of the spine.
For the head massage, just apply oil to your baby’s head and pat it slightly. Avoid applying any pressure on your baby’s head, and avoid the fontanelle, which is the soft spot on your baby’s head. In general, you should avoid applying oil near your baby’s eyes, nose, mouth, privates, and inside ears!
Cover your baby in a warm swaddle or hooded bath towel, and you are good to go! This is a good time to bathe your baby, as your baby is calm and responsive. You can choose to bathe him/her in lukewarm water to further calm them down, or dress your baby up in warm clothes and get ready for some warm snuggles!
How frequently should I massage my baby?
The frequency of baby massages can vary at your convenience. Some parents prefer to give their baby a massage every day, while others don’t. You can also plan the massage before your baby’s bath time or before their sleep time. What is important is that you are completely involved and present while performing the massage, so that you and your baby can reap all the benefits of this amazing practice.
How long should a baby massage be?
A baby massage usually takes between 10-30 minutes time. You can start with a small duration, say 5 minutes, to get your baby acquainted and comfortable with the process before moving on to extended periods of time.
When to stop giving my baby a massage?
Again, this is a personal decision. There is no hard and fast rule about the age at which you should stop giving your baby a massage. Most families in India give a daily baby massage for the entire first year. If your baby enjoys massages, you can continue beyond a year as well.
Baby massages have been a part of Indian baby care traditions for a long time. When performed correctly, the practice offers multiple benefits for the baby and the parent or grandparent offering the massage. A good baby massage nourishes your baby’s skin deeply and improves bone strength. It also improves their mood, muscle tone, and muscle coordination. Most importantly, it can help you to bond better with your baby. With this guide, we hope you will feel prepared to give your baby the perfect massage!