Health and Wellness

7 Scientific Benefits Of Massaging A Baby

Ridhi Doomra
0 to 1 years

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7 Scientific Benefits Of Massaging A Baby

A typical scenario: Before bathing the baby, your aaya or you make the baby comfortable on a soft cloth/towel, grab baby oil and gently start massaging in gentle soothing motions from upwards to downwards, right? Well, not quite – here's how to get it right.

Which Oil Is Best For Baby Massage?

The best oil? I suggest coconut oil, the richest source of Vitamin E. If your baby and you do not like the strong smell of coconut oil, you may opt for olive oil. Many mothers also use almond oil or our very own mustard oil for massaging the baby. Choice of oil also depends on the season, for example, in winters most Indian mothers prefer mustard oil because it has a heating effect. Almond oil is also considered equally good in winters, and so is olive oil. In summers, coconut oil and sesame oil is preferred for baby massage. Choose an oil that suits the weather, and your baby's skin. Always remember to dab a little oil on your baby's skin, to see if it has any allergic reaction.

Newborn Baby Massage Oil

Now that we know the most common oils used for baby massage, you might be wondering if these oils are safe for massaging a baby in the initial days as well. Just because I like coconut oil or someone else prefers mustard oil, you should not stick to them. Make an informed choice by considering the factors like skin condition of the newborn, season when the baby is born, and your own personal preference. For example, vegetable oils containing oleic acid shouuld not be used for babies who have sensitive and dry skin. Examples of such oils are olive oil and sunflower oil. If your baby has eczema, go for coconut oil. Mustard oil should be preferred in winters and in places with modearte climate- do not use mustard oil for massaging a baby where the climate is predominantly hot. Almond oil has the added benefits of Vitamin E- so it is very good for dry baby skin during winters. Sesame oil, derived from black sesame seeds is also light like coconut oil and is preferred in summers for baby massage. Sesame oil is also backed by Ayurvedic science. So basically, depending on your baby's skin, season, your preference and the baby's liking, choose your newborn baby's massage oil.

How Do I Massage My Baby?

After choosing an oil and a comfortable time for massaging the baby, the next step is to get started with the baby massage. Make your baby comfortable on a mat in a warm and cozy room. The baby should be comfortable and not hungry or bored. Clean your hands and take some oil and start massaging the soles of your baby's feet. Make sure your strokes are gentle yet firm, and smooth and soft. The hands should move downwards to upwards in a circular motion. Massage your baby's legs from ankle to thighs, leaving the genital area. Start your baby's upper body massage by making gentle strokes in towards the chest from the shoulders. Head for the arms from the shoulders to the wrists. Massage your baby's tummy gently with circular clockwise strokes, this also helps release gas. Massage your baby's back by placing her on her tummy in long, head to toe strokes. Making small circles with your fingers you can massage your baby's scalp.

What Is The Best Time To Massage A Baby?

Many people prefer massaging a baby before the bath and before bedtime, as the massage relaxes a baby and she sleeps better. Some mothers prefer massaging the baby after a bath so as to retain the moisture in the skin. If you are using a light oil, you may opt for massaging your baby after the bath and retain the goodness. However, for heavier oils like mustard and coconut, it is best to run the baby a bath so the excess oil can be washed away. You can up the benefits by doing the massage in an area where there is ample early sunlight – this will provide Vitamin D to the baby.

When To Start Baby Massage?

We all know that for a baby, touch is the first sense that develops. It also soothes and relaxes them. Even when we grow older, a gentle touch or a quiet stroke can help us relax and heal. Thus, unless your baby is premature or it is medically advised, baby massage can be started right after the birth. However, most mothers prefer to wait for a couple of days to make a massage routine. If you are starting massaging your baby before her umbilical stump has fallen off, make sure to avoid the belly area or be very, very careful with it. For premature babies, it is advisable to wait atleast till they actually reach their due date.

Let's now come to the benefits.

Baby massage benefits

How Can I Massage My Baby To Sleep?

How do you feel when you are getting a massage yourself? Drifting away to sleep as your body relaxes and mind calms down, isn't it? Massaging offers the same comfort to babies as well, and most babies feel sleepy and relaxed by the end of it. Some babies even fall asleep during the massage! When you are massaging your baby to sleep, first thing is to make sure that you commit this time to her. Keep all things you need handy - towels, diapers, massage oil, and a baby pillow. Work your way from the baby's feet to the head, slowly and gradually, talking and singing to the baby in low tones. Make sure the room is comfortably warm, and there are no distractions - keep the room lights low and dim. As you follow the basics of massaging a baby, make sure your movements are tender and gradual, and the baby looks and feels comfortable. End the massage by cuddling your baby and telling her how much you love her. Sets the perfect start to a good night's sleep!

7 Benefits Of Massaging Your Baby

  1. Soothes and relaxes: The best way to calm a distressed baby is to give him/her a soothing massage. As you will see yourself, your newborn is quite active while lying on her back - the arms and legs are in a constant cycling motion. This eventually tires the baby out and the result is that the baby sleeps sound and easy
  2. Fosters a bond: When you massage your baby, you are forging a great bond through touch as well as sound – it's natural to use soft, soothing, loving words along with the massage and this works like magic to make your baby feel loved and secure
  3. Cuts out colic and constipation: When you massage your baby's back you are giving her 'tummy time'. Tummy time, as your doctor must have told you, is important for the baby's digestive system – it helps in relieving gas and also easing out constipation
  4. Promotes healthy weight gain: It is believed that oil massage is an ideal way to ensure a healthy weight gain in babies. When you are massaging your baby, you are ensuring that all her body parts are being stimulated. This stimulation aids in better digestion and better digestion translates into healthy growth and weight gain
  5. Boosts the mind: Experts believe that when you are giving an oil massage to your baby, there is a natural release of serotonin – a natural chemical in the brain which regulates moods. An increased serotonin production results in a happy baby – and need we say, a happy baby means happy mommy!
  6. Get the glow: Children have soft and supple skin. Why is that so? Well! you guessed it right – it is the result of an oil massage. Any oil containing vitamin E is beneficial to the skin. Most baby oils contain vitamin E which is very beneficial for the skin
  7. Strengthens bones and muscles: Last but the most beneficial – an oil massage is the best thing that can happen for a growing baby's bones and muscles. It increases the blood supply to the bones and muscles and also to all the vital organs; the result – the baby becomes stronger day by day

It would be great to hear from you on your experiences while massaging your baby? How do you feel? Do you feel that your baby is reaping the benefits? Please do share in the comments section below.

What Precautions Should I Take During Massaging My Baby?

  1. Make sure that the room you are in is warm and well lit
  2. Make sure that your baby is well rested and fed, and is in a happy mood
  3. If you have heated the oil, make sure it is not too hot or you may burn your baby's skin
  4. Your baby's comfort is of prime importance, so if at any point your baby seems uncomfortable or fussy, stop
  5. Also, an important piece of advice my doctor gave me was to not allow even a drop of oil from going into the nose and ears, as it may lead to a fungal infection

Happy Massaging!

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Sudha Rao

| Oct 22, 2016

Thankqqq , olive oil is gud for massage it can be continued till 1yr

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Tarunee Sharma

| Oct 22, 2016

olive oil is very good for massage, but only during winters

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Priti Derasariya

| Oct 21, 2016

hello.. my baby is 6 n half month.. she cries alot while oil massage.. can anyone suggest what to do? till wat age oil massage is important??

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| Oct 21, 2016

hi... can we give massage to 10+ month baby n which oil is gud n will my baby gain weight ..ideally till how many months can we give massage

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Ganga Bansal

| Oct 21, 2016

thank you for the information

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