The Benefits Of Massaging Your Baby
By Tony Luck
Both babies and parents benefit from baby massage.
The Benefits To The Baby:
-Massage will help to relax baby and relieve pent up tension and frustration.
-Massage has been shown to provide relief from colic and other problems related to digestion.
-It improves circulation and boosts the immune system by moving the lymph around.
-Its therapeutic benefits help relieve the pain of teething.
-Babies who are regularly massaged are more friendly and alert when awake and are more receptive to hugs and cuddles in later years.
Premature Babies particularly will benefit from massage.
-Premature babies who receive massage whilst in hospital are allowed home on average 6 days earlier than non-massaged babies.
-When premature babies receive standard hospital care they appear stressed, their pulse rates increase and their oxygen levels fall; however, when they are massaged, the opposite happens, pulse rates fall and oxygen levels rise.
-Massage is used in many special care baby units.
The Benefits To The Parent:
-Massaging baby will aid bonding.
-Studies have shown that parents experience a fall in stress levels when they regularly massage their babies.
-Working parents who are able to massage baby soon after they return home from work will enjoy quality time with their little one which helps them "switch off from work, relax and reconnect with their family.
Where And When To Massage
You need a warm room, minimum temperature 25 C. Babies lose heat quickly when uncovered.
Choose a room on your own away from distractions like the television and other people.
Don't massage when baby is tired or has just had a feed. Wait until at least one hour following a feed otherwise you could cause baby to bring up her food. However, don't wait until just before a feed is due either as she could be too hungry to enjoy the experience.
You can begin massaging as soon as you like after baby's birth, but don't massage around the navel area until the umbilical cord stump has fallen off - normally four to seven days after birth.
How Long Should A Massage Take?
About 20-30 minutes. A baby is not very big so half an hour will be enough to completely massage baby.
If possible, include a massage in baby's daily routine. If this is not possible, even three times each week will be beneficial.
The Oils To Use
Oil will help your hands move gently over baby's body without causing friction.
Use natural oils such as extra virgin olive oil, almond oil or grape-seed oil as these are easily absorped by the skin. The use of essential oils (aromatherapy oils) is not recommended unless directed by a trained aromatherapist.
Babies are fragile! As a guide, close your eyes and rub your eyelid. This is the maximum pressure you should use when massaging baby.
-Baby will become very slippery when massaged, so be very careful when picking her up afterwards. It will be rather like picking up a piece of wet soap!
-Do not massage baby if she has a temperature.
-If you suspect baby has a nut allergy, use an oil that is free from nut products.
There are a number of books and videos that show you how to massage baby, or some clinics have classes in baby massage. Our site also has a step by step description of how to massage. It is not possible to show this here as it involves images.
About The Author
Tony and Katy Luck run a site with advice about babies. Visit their site at http://www.baby-talk.co.uk/baby-massage.htm for additional information on how to massage your baby.
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