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Baby Massage: Relaxing for Baby and You

June 8, 2009

Massaging your baby stimulates his/her central nervous system, which makes the brain release more serotonin, a chemical which produces a feeling of well being. It also depresses the production of cortisol which is secreted in response to stress. This gentle massage can help baby sleep better, soothe and calm a colicky baby and deepen the bonding experience between baby and parents. The skin to skin connection between parent and child provides a reassuring and loving experience for baby. What better way to enhance the developing relationship with your baby than to gently massage their little bodies while talking softly and maintaining eye contact. Talking to and smiling at your child while massaging him/her makes baby feel more secure and comfortable.

Here are some tips on massaging technique for babies:

Get all things you need ready before you start rubbing the oil on the baby's body. This includes, the baby massage oil, tissues, clean diapers and clothes. Make sure the room is warm and quiet.

Baby's skin is very soft, jewelry or long nails have the potential to scrape baby’s skin and accidentally hurt your child. So keep your fingernails short and set aside the jewelry you wear on your hands when you are massaging the baby. Spread a changing mat or a soft towel on a flat, safe surface and undress the baby. Put the baby down with his or her face up. At no time should you leave baby alone in an area where he might fall or suffer some other injury.
Place about one half teaspoon of oil at a time on your palms so they glide easily on the baby's body. You can apply more oil later as needed. Rub your hands together or blow your warm breath on them to make sure your palms are warm. Aromatherapy oils for adults are not suitable for the baby. Although some people think that a small amount of scent is all right for infants, it is best to be safe and use unscented products. If you feel the need for scent (remember, baby doesn’t care about scent), make sure that it is very light and only use lavender or chamomile essential oil scented products. No fragrance oils or aroma chemicals should be used on infant skin as they can contain ingredients that are toxic to baby and allergies or sensitization could become a problem.

Use smooth, gentle but firm strokes with your palm or fingers. Light circular movements on chest and stomach, stroking across the shoulders, downward movement on the arms and legs and upward movements on the back are the best. Do not put too much pressure on the baby's fragile body and avoid the spine area. Keep the baby engaged while massaging him or her by talking or singing to the infant. Eye contact with the baby ensures him or her of your undivided attention. A sudden break in contact of your hands may cause alarm to the baby, take care to be gentle while stopping the massage. Do not oil baby's palms or fingers as these little ones tend to put them in their mouths or eyes often and this may cause them irritation. Wrap the baby in a clean and warm towel after the massage and cuddle him or her.

Do not massage the baby just before or after feeding, or when the baby is ill. Do not wake the baby up for a massage. Avoid rashes, wounds or areas where the baby has got his injections or vaccines as it may hurt.

Enjoy this quiet, loving time with your baby.

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