Here’s why you should give your baby a massage
Article by Cherlynn Ng
Just gave birth to your little one? Now is the best time to introduce touch! Skin-to-skin care not only brings you closer to your newborn, but has proven to be soothing for both parties too. And even though he or she can’t speak yet, a good massage can convey your love to your baby. Here are some benefits of massaging your newborn.
Physical touch is integral in bonding with your baby and a massage allows you to do that — and more. Massages are an effective way of mindfully engaging with your baby, recognising nonverbal communication and helping them to develop trust. This intimate activity also brings you and your little one closer, making them feel loved and cared for.
2. Boosting your confidence
A first-time mum? Well, massages are a great way to practice handling your newborn. Spending alone time with your child will help you to grasp the art of learning, recognising, interpreting and responding to their cues. It’s also a wonderful way for YOU to relax, not just your baby.
3. Health benefits
Besides mental and emotional benefits, massages improve your baby’s physical health too! Examples are improved breathing, blood circulation and gastrointestinal function. Not only do massages soothe and relax, they also provide relief to bothersome ailments such as colic, constipation and trapped wind.
How to give a colic massage: Start by giving your baby a belly massage. Next, bend his knees up to his tummy and hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. Repeat a few times. Then, place the edge of one hand on your baby’s belly, gliding from the belly button down in a rhythmic pattern to help release pent-up gas. Repeat if needed.
4. Improve sleep
Is your baby fussing a lot during bedtime? A lovely massage might just do the trick. Studies have shown that infants with sleep onset problems displayed fewer sleep delays and dozed off faster after being massaged by their parents for 15 minutes every day for a month. They cried less, had lower levels of stress hormones and even gained weight. Another study showed that premature babies who were massaged three times a day for 15 minutes gained 47% more weight and left the hospital about six days earlier than those who were not massaged.
Some tips you may find useful are to massage your baby in a cosy and quiet place, start slow and gentle, and to keep repeating the motions if your baby is enjoying them. You should also constantly communicate with your child during the massage by calling their name, telling a story, singing a rhyme or simply talking to them.
Make sure to only give a massage when your baby is calm, alert and content. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s best to wait at least 45 minutes after a feed to avoid vomiting. Some signs that suggest it isn’t the best time to perform a massage is when your baby turns their head away from you or stiffens their arms, as these indicate discomfort.
Settling on a routine is all about trial-and-error, so pay attention to your infant’s cues to determine when in the day and how often to massage them. Be patient and keep practising until you get the hang of things because the rewards will be priceless.
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