Massaging your baby enhances the emotional bond with your child and can calm him down, improve sleep patterns and help digestion. It's also a wonderful way for dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents and other caregivers to share special time with the new addition to the family.
Additionally, research has shown that gently massaging premature babies actually helps improve their growth and development. According to one study, preemies who were massaged three times daily for ten days gained almost 50 percent more weight, were more active and alert and were able to leave the hospital six days earlier than other premature infants.
- Timing: Choose a point when you're relaxed and unhurried and won't be interrupted. Don't plan to massage your baby when he has a full stomach or is hungry.
- Position/Setting: Make sure you're comfortable. Sit on the floor or on the bed, or put your baby on your lap. Lay your baby on his back on a terry towel since first you'll massage the front of your baby, then the back. The room should be warm (75 degrees if possible). Talk to or sing to your baby. You both might also enjoy some soothing music in the background.
- Massage Oils: Natural oils are the best-almond oil or a fresh bottle of vegetable oil scented with a drop of fragrance, such as lemon, vanilla or lavender. Warm a few drops in your hands. Don't use oil on the head or face. (Cornstarch is useful for a quick, few-minutes massage.)
- Your Baby's Comfort: It's important to respect your baby's space and integrity. Ask permission, even if your baby can't give verbal consent yet. Stop if you sense overstimulation. A newborn may enjoy only two to five minutes of massage, while a child over two months of age might love a more elaborate one.