How to massage a newborn baby
Caressed by the uterus and the abdominal wall of the mother, the baby gets its first massage already in the womb. Its largest sense organ, the skin, begins to form during the seventh week of gestation, starting to feel the impressions from its surroundings. In the first months after birth, the child continues to learn about the world primarily through the sense of touch.
Therefore, any additional stimulation of the senses coming from the tender maternal touch brings endless benefits:
- Develops the motility of the child and expands its spatial field.
- Normalizes muscle tone.
- Stimulates the central nervous system.
- Improves blood circulation.
- Helps digestion.
- Enhances immunity.
- Has a beneficial effect in colic, constipation and other ailments.
- Facilitates nonverbal communication and strengthens the emotional bond with the parent.
- Facilitates healthy sleep.
- Increases the mother's confidence and alleviate her condition in case of postpartum depression.
How to massage your baby?
The most important conditions for a good massage are your relaxation, devotion and love. Only after that come the following recommendations:
- Start massaging your child in the first days after birth, as long as you both feel well. But if your baby was born prematurely, had a low birth weight or any disease, it is better to consult a pediatrician.
- The recommended duration of massage is between 15 and 30 minutes. Even 5-10 minutes (in the absence of more free time) would still be beneficial to the little one.
- It is most appropriate to perform the massage at the same time every day (e.g. at night after bathing), as young children respond very well to routine. Do not massage the baby immediately after a meal or when it is very hungry.
- Make sure the room is warm enough, quiet and cozy, before starting the massage.
- Keep in mind that the skin of newborns is extremely delicate, and their immune systems - still immature, therefore it is important to use only massage oils designed for babies or pure vegetable oils.
- Do not apply massage oil directly on the infant’s body. First, rub your palms vigorously to warm them up, and then pour on them the required amount of oil.
- The baby must lie comfortably on a flat surface. A good idea is to place a sheet underneath to replace the diaper and to absorb excess oil. Undress your child and cover it with a blanket, leaving naked only the area of its body that you are going to massage.
- Talk to the baby during the massage or play some quiet, pleasant music to help it relax as much as possible.
- Perform the massage along the direction of the lymph, i.e. from bottom to top, and in the area of the abdomen – in a circular clockwise movements.
- It is best to massage in the following sequence - arms, chest, abdomen, legs, back.
- You can use a combination of several different methods - caresses, tapping (lightly rhythmic drumming with fingertips), squeezing, rubbing, but it is advisable to start and finish the massage of each zone with caresses / strokes.
- Stroking and rubbing can be used on legs, chest, abdomen and back, tapping - on limbs and back (avoiding the kidneys), and squeezing - on limbs (without the joints).
- Massaging the area of the heart has an energizing effect, so it should take minimal time, if you want to calm your baby at bedtime.
- Remember that you should not put pressure on the spine, the skull, the navel, the throat, the armpits and the genitals. Never massage inflamed areas of the baby’s skin.
- Use smooth movements and try to find the "right" pressure. It must be sufficiently strong and yet gentle, so as not to cause any tingling or pain.
- Stop massaging if your toddler starts crying and try again later. Consult your pediatrician if it consistently refuses to receive massage for no apparent reason.