Your baby is able to communicate even though he/she cannot speak. His/her medium of communication turns out to be through touch, which is a powerful instinctive medium that your baby uses to learn everything that is around him/her. It is, therefore not surprising that your baby stops crying whenever you cuddle him/her while stroking his/her back to a point where he/she gets to sleep. You unknowingly massage him/her.
Although baby massage can start right from birth, it is a good idea to wait until he/she is about three or six months of age. You have two alternatives when it comes to massaging your baby: do it on your own at home or take your baby to a dedicated baby massage location if you happen to have one around. It may be necessary to take your baby to such a center just in case you do not know the baby massage techniques involved.
Baby massage provides for valuable benefits especially if you do it on your own;
- It is a calming, loving and soothing experience that makes it possible for both of you to have a good time together.
- It makes it possible for you get to know your baby better and how to handle him/her.
- It makes it possible for you to interact with your baby, thereby strengthening the bond between the two of you.
- It makes it possible for your baby to have quality sleep because of relaxed muscles. It also improves your baby’s breathing due to the “feel-good” effect brought about by oxytocin hormone whose level increases because of deep massage. Note that you also experience the “feel-good” effect by simply massaging your baby.
Baby massage applies to all babies except premature babies. Premature babies are generally weak and vulnerable and only become ready for a massage when they have gained a reasonable amount of weight.
Effective and beneficial massage baby massage requires that you set a specific time and regular frequency to massage your baby. You can choose to do it daily or weekly depending on your schedule. The best time for baby massage is either just after a bath or just before going to bed in the evenings. You also need to massage your baby when he/eh is alert and is neither hungry nor tired.
How to Do It
You need to prepare before every massage session. You need to have a clean baby towel and natural massage oil. The massage area should be flat and your hands need to be clean. The following is a simple yet effective baby massage technique you can adopt.
Start by applying massage oil on your palms, rubbing them against each other thoroughly. Proceed to hold one of his/her legs in one of your palms. Use the other hand to hold the ankle securely before molding the thigh area sliding down to the ankle. Do it as if you are milking the skin. Do this repeatedly for several minutes before switching the legs.
Follow the above procedure with massage of the feet. Place one of your baby’s foot on your lap and stroke the foot from the heel to the toes using one of your thumbs. Ensure that you squeeze and “milk” each toe. Do this repeatedly before switching the foot.
Repeat the fist step but differently. Start at the ankle toward the thigh instead. Switch legs to complete full leg massage.
The above procedure also applies when it comes to massaging your baby’s arms, which should cover the shoulders as well. Massaging his/her tummy should be in gentle and circular movements. You need to ensure that you massage the tummy area clockwise rather than anti-clockwise.