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05Dec 13

Bond with your little one through baby massage

For some first-time parents, the words “baby massage” make their heads turn. It might sound strange at first, but babies love massage just like the rest of us!

It also has many benefits. Not only is it a proven way to soothe a crying baby, but it can also help your baby sleep more soundly. It can help you and your partner bond with your baby, as well. There are even theories that say massage can help your baby stay healthy and stimulate your baby’s brain development.

Bond with your little one through baby massage

Bond with your little one through baby massage

Baby massage chemistry

The soothing strokes of mum or dad’s hands stimulate the production of a feel-good hormone called oxytocin in both the giver and the receiver. This hormone, which is also released during breast-feeding and labour, is responsible for that warm, loving feeling you have when you hold your baby close to you. Physical touch also reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.

But baby massage isn’t just beneficial for soothing your baby and lifting your own mood. This interaction can also help first-time parents learn their baby’s body language. Because babies cannot talk, parents must learn to read their baby’s physical cues to understand what he or she is trying to communicate. And because babies cannot understand spoken language, parents must rely on other methods, like touch, to communicate back.

How to perform baby massage

The first thing you will need for baby massage is the right oil. Whichever oil you choose, make sure that you test that your little one isn’t sensitive or allergic by dabbing a small amount on his or her arm and seeing if there is a reaction. Coconut oil, olive oil and sesame oil are nice alternatives to marketed baby oils.

Some health centres offer courses on baby massage, but if you would like to start on your own, you can use this simple routine. The important thing to remember is that you should follow a routine – babies do best when they know what is coming next.

Warm some oil by rubbing it in your hands, then start with the legs. It is a good idea to concentrate on your baby’s legs in the first few massage sessions because he or she should be used to being touched there during nappy changes. Work your way up the legs, gently squeezing the calves and thighs, and then with your hands wrapped around the leg, pull them down one after the other.

Once your baby gets used to the sensation, move to other parts of the body. You can repeat the previous motions on the arms, and afterwards, you can trace circles on the hands and feet using your thumbs. Using your fingertips, you can then trace small circles on either side of your baby’s backbone as well as larger circles on your baby’s tummy.

Keep going as long as your baby seems to be enjoying it, and remember to smile, make plenty of eye contact, talk and sing to your baby. And of course, have fun!

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