BABY: Why is my world rocking all of a sudden? My automated home seems to be flowing? Why am I feeling a shove?
Why is this ghastly noise? Stop shining lights in my eyes! Waaaa…..where am I?
(A baby leaves the comfort, warmth and familiarity of a mother’s womb and comes into the unfamiliar world, where everything seems alien. A good massage can help the baby relax, reassure her and make her feel safe.)
BABY: It has been a couple of days since I have come into this strange world. I need to wail for my every need – food, sleep and cleaning. And sometimes the parents just don’t get me. I need some tender loving and caring to relax my jarred nerves.
(A Baby Massage is soft rhythmic strokes given to the baby’s body, with gentle yet firm hands, aided with oil or lotion to ease the movement and help them to glide over the baby’s body.
The “feel good” hormone – oxytocin is released with the soothing repetitive movements of the hands.
The skin-to-skin touch is extremely important as it builds trust between the parents and the baby. To further the bonding, reassure the baby with the sound of your voice by softly humming, singing or even talking to the baby.)
BABY: Mama now does this wonderful thing to me called massage which I love. She always lets me know when she is about to start by rubbing a little oil on my hands and saying it is time for a massage. Oh boy! I do love it when she does this.
(Develop a gesture that lets your baby know that it is massage time. You will be surprised how quick they pick up the signals and even look forward to it.)
BABY: She has started reading my cues much better now and knows when I am not in a mood for a massage. It might have been her anxieties as a first-time parent which had her overstressed and missing all the cues. She is now tuned into me.
(It is not the Parent who is calling the shots with the baby but the baby who makes you dance to its tune. A parent needs to tune into the baby’s moods and should be able to identify the best time for a massage. It might sound intimidating but it is pretty simple. Just be observant. Here are some pointers.
- Do not give a massage immediately after feeding as the baby would not be able to tolerate it and may vomit. Wait for at least 45 mins after feeding, the mid time between feedings
- The baby needs to be alert for a massage. If she is making eye contact and not squirming or moving her head side to side, then she is ready for a massage.
- If the baby appears to be sleepy, let her rest. Else she would be cranky and agitated during massage and that defeats the whole purpose of a massage.
- Try giving a massage about half an hour before bath. It will refresh the baby.
- Also plan a massage at night before sleep as it will relax and calm the baby and help her (and ultimately you) get a good night’s sleep.
As father’s mostly miss out on the daily activities of the baby, it would be an excellent idea to let him massage the baby at night. It will strengthen the bond between the father and the baby.)
BABY: She ensures that the room is warm with no draft, puts on soft music, dims the light and hums, sings and talks to me.
(Babies respond well to a soothing environment. Do ensure that the music is soft enough so that the baby can hear you over it.
But most important of all – STAY RELAXED. Babies have inbuilt mood radars and can pick up on your anxiety and get cranky themselves as they get affected by it.)
BABY: She is so detailed and meticulous. I love watching her as she readies all essentials for the massage.
(The massage can be given to the baby anywhere, where you are comfortable. It may be the change table, the floor or even the bed.
- Lay down a soft towel on the surface that you are going to give a massage on.
- Have the oil or lotion handy but out of reach of the baby.
- Have some tissues and towels handy in case there is any spillage or mess.
- Have a fresh nappy/diaper and a change of clothes ready.
- Incase giving a bath afterwards, keep the water ready.
- Keep your nails trimmed and remove all jewelry from your hand.)
BABY: Mama washes her hands, puts a drop of oil in her palm and rubs it to make them warm before touching me. Cold hands had shocked me once or twice and then I had gotten cranky. She completely undresses me as I do love to be rid of the cumbersome diapers and move about freely.
(Always warm your hands before touching the baby. It is up to you to either remove the diaper or leave it on. Though it would be good to let them be free and “air” their skin.)
BABY: My Mum has a firm yet gentle touch. It soothes all my muscles and makes me feel good.
(The massage needs to be done with gentle yet firm hands. Do not apply immense pressure. To get started, take a few drops of oil in your hands and rub your palms together.
LEGS –Gently grip the ankle of the baby with one hand. Mold the other hand to the thigh and make downwards stroke. Change hands and repeat.
ARMS – Move your hands from the shoulder to the wrist in a semicircular, crisscross motion.
HANDS AND FEET – Massage the foot with your thumb from heel to toe. Similarly massage the hands from the base of the palm towards the fingers.
TUMMY – Massage the tummy in circular clockwise motion with your fingertips a few times. Hold the baby by the ankles and move the knees towards the tummy and hold for 30 seconds. This will help to release the gas.
HEAD – Steadily hold the head with two fingers and thumb. Gently massage in circular motion with the tip of your finger. Do not apply pressure on the soft spot of the skull.
FACE – Gently massage the face with your fingertips in small circular movements.
BACK – Keep your hands flat and move your hands from the base of the neck to the base of the spine. Also move your palms from the spine to the sides.
CONTROL YOUR TOUCH - Do not tickle a baby. Laughter is an automated response to tickling. However, it does not mean that the baby is enjoying it. They have no way of communicating this to you. Continued tickling can even be painful and leave them gasping for breath.)
BABY: I love my Mama’s massage, especially when she helps me to release the gas. There are some obvious benefits that I can make out. But I am sure that there are plenty more.
(Besides the apparent soothing effect, a massage has many more benefits for the baby.
- Improves the blood circulation
- Aids in digestion
- Relieves colic, gas and constipation.
- Stimulates growth hormone and improves weight gain
- Relieves nasal congestion
- Helps develop stronger bones and muscles
- Improves sleep
- Relieves the discomfort of teething
- Improves the bond between baby and parent
- Relaxes the parent as well)
BABY: Another thing which really relaxes me is the ayurvedic oil that she uses to massage me with. It is gentle on my skin, has an extremely mild fragrance and keeps my delicate skin moisturized.
(Oils formulated for babies’ massage are free from chemicals, paraben, mineral oils etc.
Coconut Oil – It helps to seal in the moisture in the skin.
Almond Oil – It is rich in vitamin E and improves the skin’s thickness.
Shea Butter – Is a natural moisturizer. Use shea butter without added perfumes.
Jojoba Oil – High in vitamin E is recommended for babies with eczema.
The below oils should be avoided
Avocado Oil– It contains Oleic acid which can break down the skin instead of improving it.
Peanut Oil – Some babies may develop an allergy to peanut proteins.
Mustard Oil – This pungent oil can irritate the baby’s skin
Soybean Oil – May cause skin irritation and break down the skin’s barrier.
Essential Oils – They are highly concentrated and can cause irritation to the baby’s sensitive skin. However, there are a few live lavender essential oil, dill essential oil etc which are safe in proper dilution.
Natural products are always the best. Quite a few Ayurvedic Baby Massage Oils are now available in the market. These are fortified with herbs which have additional benefits for the baby. For example, Mulethi is extremely important to keep a check on skin disorders like eczema, rashes etc. and it moisturizes the skin. Ashwagandha also protects against dry skin, strengthens bones and muscles and is an extremely important herb in Ayurveda.
Do not forget the patch test. It is extremely important in the case of a baby.)
BABY: I love falling asleep in Mama’s arms after a good massage and a warm bath. It is the best feeling ever.(Catch up on your sleep along with the baby. The first couple of months can be very exhausting.)