Planning on giving your baby a massage? Here’s what you need to know.
WORDS ANGEL DREWGUS
Touch is the most developed of the senses at birth and the prime means of communication for babies. Here’s what you need to know about giving your baby a massage.
When you’re preparing to massage your baby, you may wish to use a small amount of baby massage oil or lotion. It can reduce friction against your baby’s skin and make the hand movements of the massage smoother. Pour a small amount of baby oil or lotion into your palm, and allow it to warm between your hands before smoothing the oil onto your baby’s skin, advises Kang Phaik Gaik, head parentcraft/lactation, Mount Alvernia Hospital. If you do use oil, make sure that it is odourless and edible, just in case your baby gets some of it in his mouth.
If you’re wondering when the best time is to massage your baby, there really isn’t one. Make infant massage a part of the daily routine if possible. Make sure that you have ample time to do it and take note of your baby’s mood. For example, don’t massage your baby when he is hungry (he might be cranky and not enjoy it) or when the baby is full (he might vomit with too much stimulation) says Dr Vina C Tagamolila, resident physician, Dept of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, SGH. A daily gentle massage after a warm bath and before bedtime would help baby to calm down and relax so that he sleeps better.
Once you start massaging your baby, when and how often you massage your baby is up to you, says Dr Vina. Every day if possible, or at least four to five times a week.
Massages can last a few minutes to as long as fifteen minutes or for however long your baby enjoys the process of being massaged. Watch out for baby’s cue. If the baby turns away from you and appears restless and unhappy, stop the massage and try again later, advises Dr Vina. If your baby starts to cry during the massage, it might be an indication for you to change and massage another part of the body or check and attend to baby’s other needs (hunger or wet/soiled nappy) and if that doesn’t work, then pick up and calm baby down before trying again, advises Patricia Dimney, nurse clinician, NUH Women’s Centre.
Keep Up with It
Remember, massages don’t have to stop once your baby becomes a toddler. “Massage doesn’t stop when a baby gets big enough to roll or walk away,” according to the International Association of Infant Massage. As a child’s life gets more active and stressful, a massage may even be more necessary. There is no age limit to stop massaging your baby. You may continue for young children, teens and even adults. Everyone including adults enjoys a good massage, says Dimney.