One of the first ways you will bond with your baby is through touch. Babies are pretty much just a bundle of impulses when they are born. They cannot comprehend our words or most of the world around them. But, they do learn our voices and they learn our touch as well.
There is a movement toward certifying infant massage instructors, subsequently training parents how to massage their babies. While there is a lot of merit is making sure you know how to massage your child without harming their delicate bodies, I am going to talk about the kind of infant massage that is less about technique and more about nurturing and loving through the power of gentle touch.
If you want more information on certified instructors, you can get it here.
Aside from the obvious benefit of emotional bonding, infant massage also offers a plethora of other benefits. It provides the baby with much needed human interaction, which leads to increased aware on the part of the infant. Massage improves blood circulation. Little bodies are still learning how to regulate heating and cooling and overall circulation, as evidenced by how quickly their tiny hands and feet can become very cold.
Infant massage aids in digestion. As tiny digestive systems are still trying to regulate, a little gentle massage eases the way. Massage also helps relieve discomfort from gas, colic, and constipation. My own daughter was severely colicky for almost six months! I found a couple of tried and true massage techniques that soothed her belly and helped move the gas bubbles.
The Basic Setup
Try to put you and your child on a regular massage schedule. I always did it after her bath, while she was warm and relaxed. Make sure you are in a warm room with low light and soothing sounds, like a lullaby CD. We had a favorite CD of sitar music that my daughter still listens to at night.
You can use the changing table, a bed, or even the floor. Just make sure to put down an absorbent towel. Remember that you also need to be comfortable. The baby’s diaper can be on or off, but off gives your little angel more freedom.
Have some plant-based oil on hand. Grapeseed oil and sweet almond oil are both excellent choices. Keep in mind that “baby oil” is essentially just mineral oil. Mineral oil is manufactured from crude oil (petrochemical). It can cause sensitivity reactions and used over the long-term, it can actually dry the skin.
Not Just For Mom
Good for dads and other caregivers, who can feel left out of the bonding. Naufal’s dad would watch me massage Naufal and eventually he developed a routine where he massaged her after her bath every single night. As Naufal got older, she knew to look forward to this special time with Daddy, even though it moved away from actual massage and more into a routine of hair brushing and putting on lotions.