As a parent, you want to do everything you can to ensure your baby's health and wellbeing. One way to do this is through baby massage, a gentle and rhythmic caress of your baby's body with your hands. Baby massage has a variety of benefits, from strengthening the bond between you and your baby to helping them feel more relaxed and improving their sleep. It can also help relieve stomach problems and teething pains, stimulate muscle development, and calm them when they are upset.
When it comes to giving your baby a massage, the time of day can make a difference in how well they respond. This is because touch is one of the most developed senses at birth, and research suggests that infant massage has tremendous benefits in helping babies grow and thrive. If your baby moves their head away from you or stiffens in their arms, it may not be the best time for a massage. To begin the massage, start with your hands on the baby's shoulders and make smooth movements towards the chest.
You can then gently manipulate their ankles, wrists, and fingers. Some parents prefer to use oil during infant massage to avoid friction between the baby's hands and skin, while others find it too messy. If the baby becomes stiff, crying or irritable, move to another part of the body or just finish the massage for the day. Researchers have found that when coconut oil is used (as opposed to mineral oil), babies (both premature and full-term) gain more weight. You can also ask your baby's doctor if they can recommend an infant massage specialist or other qualified expert who can teach you techniques to address your baby's specific needs. Although it can be given a nourishing touch from birth, some babies may find formal, structured massage too stimulating in the first few weeks.
The evidence is not conclusive on these points, but parents say they find baby massage a lovely way to bond with their baby. In Western countries, it was first introduced about 30 years ago for premature babies in neonatal intensive care units. Just as massage therapy can be used to treat various conditions in adults, massage therapy can also be used to treat conditions in infants and young children. Some research suggests that baby massage might even promote healthy growth, although more research is needed. My baby has to adapt to massage techniques, although I have just learned newer techniques about baby massage. As a parent, you can use this knowledge to give your little one the best possible start in life.