Massaging the baby every day is a kind of old aged ritual in India. We have always heard from our elders that massaging newborns with oil is important for their overall growth and development. This is a practice which has been followed from ages. Massaging is a great way to relax babies. It is not just a simple way to nurture a baby but also the best time for a mother to develop a connection with the baby. In this whole process massage oil plays an important role. The oil you have chosen has to be gentle and with some super healthy properties. Then only your baby will get the benefit of massage, such as nourished healthy skin and strong bones and muscles.
Benefit of massage for newborns
After breastfeeding, massage plays a great role to promote a lovely bond between mother and child. A delicate and calming massage helps a mother to convey her emotions to baby. (How to boost up breast milk production?)
A gentle baby massage helps to retain the moisture of the skin. It provides the required nourishment to baby’s skin and promotes healthy, soft and supple skin in babies. (How to prevent dry skin issue in kids?)
Massaging helps to promote better sleep patterns in babies. A proper soft massage improves blood circulation and relaxes the baby. If the baby is getting irritable, he/she can get a better sound sleep after massage. (Why rest and sleep is important for babies?)
Growth and development
Massage helps the baby skin to get stimulated and nourished. It promotes all round growth and development of the baby by improving blood circulation, nervous system and body functions. (Growth and development of infants)
Strengthen bones and muscles
Babies used to stretch their body. After coming out of the womb they get space. Their bodies grow a little bit every day. A good Ayurveda massage oil ensures to develop strong bones in babies that strengthens muscles too. (Which foods can help to build strong bones and muscles in kids?)
Massaging the infant helps in easing the digestion. It prevents gas and stomach torment issues in babies. It actually helps in relieving colic in babies too. (Some foods and recipes to introduce solids to babies)
How to do a baby massage?
Set the mood
Start connecting with the baby by singing a lullaby. Dim the lights and make the room warm. You can turn on some soft calming music too while massaging. Keep talking to the baby. It will make a lovely bond and understanding between you and baby.
The surface on which you are placing the baby for massage has to be comfortable. It should be flat. This can be your bed or floor. (Never leave the baby alone or unattended). Put a towel or two and place the baby carefully over it.
Undress the baby and remove the diaper. Left the baby naked for some time. Let the body get direct air. Babies often get diaper rash or heat rash. This airtime is beneficial for their skin and especially for bums.
Newborn’s skin is very soft. You cannot rub it. Give a soft handed gentle massage. It should be as smoothing as your baby’s skin. The process should be calming and relaxing for your baby. You can use firm strokes for toddlers but for infants strokes should be soft and gentle.
Use a clean towel or clothes for the baby every time you give a massage. Wash your hand properly before picking up the baby for massage. If you have a midwife (Dai), do insist that she clean up herself thoroughly before handling the baby as she visits several houses and can easily carry germs that may cause infection.
What to avoid?
- Avoid Massaging face of the baby. He/she is too small and the possibility of dripping oil into eyes or mouth is non-avoidable.
- Baby’s soft spot on the head still needs time to close. So avoid massaging on the head.
- Never use oils for baby massage with artificial fragrance and paraben. Avoid harsh Ingredients.
- 5-10 minutes massage would be enough for infants. Give a soft and gentle massage to your little one.
- If the baby is crying, falling asleep stops the massage.
- Hold the baby carefully after massage. Massage oil makes the grip slippery.
Best oil for baby massage
As coconut oil contains lauric acid and other essential fatty acids too, it possesses antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It helps to nourish the baby’s skin and at the same time protect it from any kind of skin infections too. It improves the moisture and prevents skin dryness. Baby’s skin is quite sensitive. Rashes caused by diapers and heat can also be treated with the help of coconut oil. Since coconut oil has soothing and hydrating properties, it reduces the inflammation thus giving relief from itching and irritation. It is one of the best oils which can provide maximum benefit of massage to babies. (Benefits of coconut oil)
Mustard oil has been used by mothers to massage babies from ages. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties that makes it the best choice for baby massage. Baby’s skin is very sensitive and is more prone to skin infections. Mustard oil protects it from any kind of fungal infections. It has a strong and pungent smell which helps to keep insects and mosquitoes away from babies. Mustard oil is very popular in cold regions because it is very effective to keep the body warm by retaining heat. Benefit of massage from mustard oil are very high during winters.
Olive oil contains Vitamin E and Vitamin K. It is also loaded with antioxidants which can help to prevent skin inflammation. It can be used to massage the baby in any season. Olive oil acts as a great moisturizer and also improves skin tone. As it is loaded with healthy fats, oleic acids and squalene, it has a regenerative effect on skin tissues. Olive oil effectively treats diaper rash. Take two tbsp. of olive oil and 1 tbsp. of water, mix well and give a gentle massage to the baby’s bum.
It is important to choose the best oil for your baby’s skin. Benefit of massage doubles if you choose best oil. Almond oil is among one of the top choices by parents for using it to massage their babies. It is enriched with vitamin A, vitamin E, fatty acids and with some minerals too. All these qualities make it a desirable choice for taking it for a baby massage. There are two types of almond oil- sweet and bitter. Sweet almond oil is absolutely safe to use as it is edible. No harm if the baby puts his/her hands in mouth. (How almond can help in growth and development of kids?)
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