A newly born baby doesn’t understand words. He/She understands emotions through touch and sound. Sometimes, when your baby starts crying, as soon as you pick him/her up, he/she stops crying; haven’t you observed this? Babies feel protected when touched and cared for. Massage is an effective way of expressing your love and care for your baby. By massage, we mean, gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body with your hands.
Research reveals that routine touch and massage by a parent or loving caregiver are critical to a baby’s growth and development, communication and learning. Research also shows that everyday experiences that engage the senses, like bath time, can lead to happy, healthy baby development.
Here are some of the benefits of infant massage if given by a mother as proven in research findings:
- The sleep quality can be improved through infant massage.
- It provides relaxation and also strengthens the immune system.
- Infant massage releases hormones which can assist in relieving discomfort from teething, chest and nose congestion, colic and emotional stress.
- Skin stimulation improves brain-body communication.
- Gentle massage encourages the development of flexibility and co-ordination.
- It also increases oxygen and nutrient flow to the cells.
- Infant massage decreases stress and tension for both you and your child. It encourages a state of calmness and relaxation.
- It increases parental confidence and self esteem.
- It strengthens bonding, especially for those parents with interrupted bonding through prematurely, medical problems.
- Infant massage provides quality time for a working parent.
- It provides daily relaxation for both you and your child.
- It helps to maintain the strong bond between you and your child that forms the basis of loving, open communication.
- Massage can lessen the effects of postnatal depression and help mother have a more positive interaction with their baby.
- Bonding is a unique relationship between you and your baby. It is a pleasant experience for both of you. Strong attachment can develop a sense of security in your child. Quality time with children can often be affected with infant massage.
- Doing a massage right after getting home from work will help a parent reconnect with baby after a hard day, and will help both baby and parent unwind.
The best time to massage a baby when he/she is neither too full nor too hungry. Find a quiet, comfortable room, lay your baby in a towel or folded sheet. Make sure you are not wearing any jewellery on your fingers or any other stuff that may hurt baby’s sensitive body. Keep everything required at an arm’s length, so that there’s no interruption during massage. And start with the massage process.
While oil and creams are good for massages, some of the oils or creams aren’t suitable, like mustard oil, unrefined peanut oil and aqueous cream containing sodium lauryl sulfate.