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We all love a good massage and your little ones are no exception. Giving your baby a massage can be a great way to let her feel your love and care, but it also benefits her in many wonderful ways. Baby massage can be relaxing for both you and the baby, and it can be a great opportunity for both of you to enjoy quality time together. Here are some of the benefits of baby massage.
Massaging your baby can be a wonderful opportunity to bond with her. Having eye contact and talking to her during the massage can help accustom her to your presence. Dads who are busy with work can use this opportunity to bond too. “My husband loves massaging our daughter after her bath every day as he gets to spend time with her after a long day at work,” shares 31-year-old mum Caroline Ng. “Watching him massage her always brings a smile to my face.”
Many studies have shown that touch decreases the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone our body produces. By using gentle and soothing strokes, you are also encouraging the production of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that is derived from affectionate behaviour. Spikes in oxytocin levels most commonly occur in mothers during breastfeeding, but dads can receive a boost as well when they are engaging with the baby.
By reducing levels of stress, your baby can be in a relaxed state. Studies have shown that being in a relaxed state helps you sleep more soundly. ” I started massaging my little one after six weeks and I found that he was more relaxed as he started to fall asleep during the massage. He also slept longer,” comments Cynthia Tan, a 28-year-old mother of one.
It is stressful and upsetting to watch your baby suffer from gas pains or constipation. Rubbing in clockwise circles about half an inch away from their belly button can improve circulations and ease digestive comforts. However, it is recommended by experts to avoid massaging the stomach until your baby’s umbilical stump has dried and fallen off, to prevent infection.
It is advisable to wait at least about two weeks after your baby’s birth for her skin to develop, before giving her a massage. Holding it off until she is about two to three months old when she is more settled into a routine, is even better.
The best time to give your baby a massage is when both of you are calm and relaxed. Massaging your baby with cream after a bath can help keep her skin well-moisturised, while a massage before bedtime can help her feel more relaxed and ready for bed. Also, babies love routines: use the same massage techniques every time so that she gets used to it and enjoys it even more.
Always perform the strokes gently and slowly, applying mild pressure using the pads of your fingers (rather than your entire palm). Start with your baby’s legs first. Getting her diapers changed regularly means that she would be more familiar with the feeling of being touched on the legs. After she has become more acclimatised to the process, move on to her back, arms and then to the rest of her body, adopting a routine pattern each time.
Always take the cues from your baby such as when she’s receptive to a massage, which stroke she likes, which ones she doesn’t, or if she prefers not to have one at all. If she starts to cry during the massage, stop, and try another time (or something else altogether). There’s always more than one way to make your baby happy!