Why And How Do I Massage My Baby
Best wishes start pouring in when a new-born arrives, so does the guidelines with what to do and what not to do. When a baby is inside the womb, he/she gains all the essentials for its survival and wellbeing, however he/she has to strive for the same once he/she is out of the magical world called womb. Parents are, then, responsible for their survival and proper care. When a baby arrives, all we are worried is about his/her health, skin, digestion and everything. If hungry, the baby is fed and after that the baby is picked up on the shoulder to make digestion easier, and if uncomfortable or fussy, we try to soothe the baby in numerous ways. Sometimes a gentle touch, a humming sound, a lullaby, a walk or even a massage can prove helpful to calm him/her down.
15 January, 2020
Massage is helpful for a baby in various ways – weight gain, stress reduction, colic reduction, enhancement in sleep, strengthening parent-child bond, relieving gas/constipation, etc. In our case, massaging proved a boon for my son in his sound sleep and reduction in colic /gas problems.
Massage is purely a way to express our love, care and affection for our baby. It possesses the quality to soothe a fussy baby and even help a baby to get a sound sleep. Parents can bond with their baby while massaging. It relaxes the baby and we find it relaxing while seeing our baby relax and get soothed. Massaging a baby is beneficial for his/her body and for the parents as well. Massage can help our baby to sleep better, cry less, develop holistically (mentally, socially and physically) and to stay relaxed. Massage gives a secured feeling to the baby, the same way we carry our baby in our womb close to us.
Personally speaking, I love and enjoy the time that I have kept for massaging my son and I even feel that he enjoys and relaxes the most when he is being massaged. The moment I place him on bed and start removing his clothes for a massage, he gives a wide smile and starts pushing his legs, communicating to me that he is all set for the massage. This has become his play time too, as he is the most energetic during massage time and enjoys every moment of it. He talks in his own language, laughs, shouts and keeps on smiling when he is being massaged. I love massaging him, as this is the time when he actively participates and communicates with me. I feel that just like me, even he waits eagerly for his massage.
During pregnancy, I read a lot about the ways, uses, benefits and effects of massaging. Guided by everyone (especially my mother), I started massaging my son after 15 days of his birth. Reading and gaining knowledge beforehand are quite helpful. However, first-hand experience is something that is entirely personal and different for each one of us. Some of us may feel that reading about something is easy, but when we need to imply our reading practically, it is a different story altogether. The same thing happened with me in the initial stages. The first day I prepared myself to massage my son, my hands started trembling and I was not able to massage him because of some hidden fear in my mind about his soft tender skin and bones (as I was unaware about the pressure to be applied while massaging).
From nowhere a thought struck my mind that I may hurt him unknowingly if my massage is not gentle and relaxing. I was shattered and upset as I considered myself unable or not able enough as a mother to massage my son. Knowing about this, my mother visited us. She came to practically show me the way to properly massage and soothe him. Her guidance worked as a moral boost for me. I made sure to learn and grasp proper and experienced method of massaging, without any fear or doubts in my mind. Seeing my mother do so, I realised that it was only my inhibition that stopped me and made me nervous, although my son was all comfortable to get massaged. Learning some tips from my mother and adding a lot more to it, I began massaging my son myself. It took me a while to get comfortable with the techniques. I prefer coconut oil for massaging him because of its numerous qualities and uses – antifungal, antibacterial, etc.
I make sure to massage him keeping in mind his alertness and feeding time, neither immediately after a feed, nor before feeding time. A suitable span of time between two feeds is the best time when a baby is can be massaged, as the baby is neither full nor hungry to get fussy.
The environment of the room plays an important role in the effect of massage on a baby. To make sure my son enjoys his massage, I put out all distractions from the room – turn off my mobile, switch off the TV, but I do play some relaxing music just to add to the atmosphere. Also, a warm room and dim lights adds to the comfort during a massage.
I place a towel or a soft blanket (comfortable flat surface) in front of me, on the bed, and then place him on the towel. Although I avoid wearing jewellery (from the day he was born), but if any, I need to take off jewellery as it could get in the way of massage.
I keep his diaper on and then start massaging him. Firstly, I gently rub his palms with the oil. If he tunes in and seems interested, then only I continue with the massage, else I get an idea that it might not be the best time to massage him.
I then, begin by massaging his legs, gliding my hands from his thigh to his ankle. Next, I move to his arms and massage his hands too, but I do wipe off his hands with a towel. Then comes his stomach massage which I do in a clockwise direction. Then I flip him over and massage his back.