How to Massage your Baby

 

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The value of massage

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Massage is the original art of “rubbing better”, of creating ease through any and all parts of the body1. It is an extended form of touch which, developed with guidance and practice, will give you greater knowledge and understanding of your child.

PROVEN BENEFITS OF MASSAGE:

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  • Helps you and baby relax.
  • Provides quiet time for you and baby.
  • Encourage bonding between you and baby.
  • Helps improve baby’s digestion and blood flow.
  • Reduce baby’s stress levels, and helps with mother’s depression where this is experienced.
  • Helps with the development of baby’s brain, nerves and muscle movements.
  • Improves baby’s sleep.
  • Improves skin condition, barrier function and baby’s ability to regulate temperature.

Getting ready:

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  • The room should be kept warm, and baby should lie on a soft blanket or towel.
  • The best time to massage your baby is when it suits your routine and when you are relaxed. Anytime is suitable.
  • A suggested time for massage is after baby’s  bath, when baby is naked, but still warm and clean.
  • Make sure both of you are comfortable and won’t be interrupted for at least 15 minutes.

Points to remember:

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  • Listen to baby’s cues and only continue if baby is happy.
  • Use gentle baby oil to reduce friction.
  • Use firm pressure as opposed to light and feathery.
  • Baby massage is intended to be a playful, therapeutic activity, so relax and enjoy!
  • Keep eye contact, talk and sing soothingly to baby.

The following steps and photos illustrate some basic techniques you may wish to follow with your baby. There are many more. Remember, any kind of touching and stroking will benefit your baby, if it is done with patience, love and care.

Massage is a time for verbal and non-verbal communication. Tiny as he may be, it lets baby know that he is wanted, valued and loved.

STEP BY STEP GUIDE:

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Remember:

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  • Sensory stimulation is good for baby’s brain development.2,3
  • Despite these instructions, massage is supposed to be relaxing and calming for both of you.
  • Don’t be afraid to break your massage up with cuddles, kisses and affection!

Choosing an oil

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Choose a light oil, such as a baby oil, that will not block your baby’s pores. Don’t pour any oil back into the bottle, as this increases the risk of infection.

BENEFITS OF MASSAGE ENHANCED WITH OIL

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Oils make massage strokes smoother and more rhythmic.4 




1. Field. Amer Psychol 1998; 53: 1270 -81.

2. Kulkarni A, et al. Massage and Touch Therapy in Neonates: The Current Evidence. Indian Pediatrics. 2010;47;771-776.

3. Field, T. “Touch Hunger.” Touch. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2014. ISBN: 9780262062169.

4. Field, et al. Pre Perinatal Psychol J 1996; 11: 73 -8.

5. Stamatas. 2011. Int J Cosmetic Sci.: 17-24.

6. Nikolovski J et al. 2009. J Invest Dermatol

ZA-JOB-2000034

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