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Benefits of massaging your baby

Benefits of massaging your baby
September 09
08:56 2014

Massages are not only a great way to relax for individuals with busy and hectic lifestyle.But massaging has numerous benefits for the newborns as well. Massaging your baby can help soothe him or her and assist to sleep.  It is also a nice way to express your love and care for your baby and spend some quality time with your bundle of joy.

There are numerous health benefits of massage for your newborn. Some of the possible benefits include, improving weight gain, assisting digestion, improving circulating and lessening teething pain. Let’s try and find more about massaging and what is the right technique to massage your baby.

What is baby massage:

Baby massage is tender, periodic fondling of your baby’s body with your hands, gently. You can use skin friendly moisturizer or oils to make your hands slide smoothly over your baby’s body. As a part of routine baby massage you can gently maneuver your baby’s fingers, wrists, ankles, and thighs. You can communicate softly, sing or hum during massaging your baby to make it more reassuring for him/her.

The calming strokes of your hands encourage the production of the oxytocin (feel-good hormone) in you and your baby. It is the hormone that provides you that loving, warm feeling when you breastfeed your baby or hold him/her close.

Benefits of baby massage:

There are variety of ways, baby massage can benefit your baby. Some of them are:

  • Develop physically, socially and mentally
  • Stay calm
  • Fuss and cry less
  • Sleep better

In a study, it was also found that massaging your baby in the early days could assist him/her to recover from jaundice more quickly.

Health benefits of massaging premature babies in special care:

Better weight gain, especially if oils are used. Massage stimulates an important nerve known as vagus nerve. Vagus nerve connects the important body parts with the brain including the stomach. Stimulation of this nerve can improve digestion and bowel movement, assisting your baby in weight gain.

More stable heart rate. Massaging improves the parts of the nervous system that regulate our organs. Therefore, massage can assist to make your premature baby’s heart rate constant.
Calmer response to pain and stress

More firm brain activity. Premature babies who are massaged are more likely to develop brain activity at a normal level.

Premature babies who are massaged tend to get better to go home sooner with their families as compared to the babies who are not massaged.

Best time to massage your baby:

Try to choose a time when your baby is neither too hungry nor too full. Choose a time between feeds. It is also advised not to massage just before his/her nap. When babies are awake and settled is considered as a good time to massage.

Massaging your baby before bedtime will assist your baby to have a more strong and longer sleep.

Things to consider before starting a massage:

It is essential to find a nice room for massaging your baby, where you and your baby will be undisturbed and comfortable. Ensure that the room is warm. Take a soft towel or folded sheet to lay your baby down. Generally, it is advised to keep him/her completely naked while offering a massage, but if it is too cold then you can keep vest or a diaper on.

Make sure there are no disturbances. You can even play relaxing music at a low volume so that you can easily communicate with your baby.

Keep things you will need in proximity, like:

  • Massage oil
  • Towels
  • Nappies and clothes to dress him/her after massage
Oils you should and you should not use:

If your baby has dry skin then you can use vegetable oil, medical emollient or baby mineral oil for massage.

  • Vegetable oils that are rich in linoleic acid, like safflower oil are gentle on your baby’s skin as compared to oils that are high in oleic acid like olive oil.
  • Don’t use mustard oil because it has toxic effect on the skin barrier and can cause irritation and damage your baby’s delicate skin
  • Don’t use unrefined peanut oil, because it contains proteins that may sensitize your baby to an allergic reaction to peanuts or can result in reaction.
  • Don’t use aqueous cream, as it contains a harsh detergent called sodium lauryl sulfate, which may irritate your baby’s skin.

Whichever cream or oil you use, it is advised to dab a little on your baby’s skin, before you actually take it in plenty to start massaging him or her, just in case he or she has a reaction.

How to massage your baby:

In initial days, when your baby is not used to the sensation, you may just start by massaging your baby’s legs. Legs are nice place to get started because he or she is used to having his/her legs touched at the time of changing nappy.

You can gradually try to follow an everyday routine; possibly massaging his/her legs before her arms, hands and body. Your baby will find routine interesting and comforting.  You can consult your doctor about the massage routine and apt techniques.

Step by step guide for baby massage, that you can follow:
  • Take oil or cream of your choice (or the one your doctor recommended)
  • Take moderate amount of the same and rub it in between your palms
  • Very delicately rub it on to your baby’s body, starting from his/her legs
  • Gradually proceed from legs, upwards, slightly squeezing her calves and thighs
  • For massaging his/her chest or tummy, gently put both hands flat in the centre of her body. Move your hands to the sides, like flattening the pages of a notebook.
  • Keep your hands flat and use fingertips to stroke outward in circular motion
    Continue as long as he/she is having great time (few minutes to half an hour or so is enough)

Don’t forget to read your baby’s cues, while massaging him/her. He/she will signal which strokes he/she likes or dislikes and when the massage needs to end. Babies generally cry during massage, but gradually they get used to it, but if your baby cries throughout and doesn’t seem to enjoy it, then consult your doctor before you continue massaging him/her.

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