We all know how relaxing a gentle massage can be. Imagine you are a newborn baby, thrust into a world of bright lights and loud noises. The people whose voices you recognise from the womb are the ones you feel most comfortable with. Babies have complete trust in their parents, and enjoy closeness through cuddles and touch. Some mothers suffer with postnatal depression, but it has been found that massaging your baby can help with bonding and reduces the risk of postnatal depression developing.
While the mother generally bonds with the baby quicker, through breastfeeding and hands-on daily care, many fathers struggle to bond with their babies, especially if they are out at work all day. For dads, baby massage is a perfect way to connect with their baby and can be relaxing after a hard day. It is a good chance to spend some quality time with your baby, giving them your full attention.
During the early stages of life, a baby’s body is constantly growing and muscles are developing. This can cause a lot of stress on the joints and muscles, so massaging can give relief to their little body. During your baby massage you can gently manipulate the ankles, wrists and fingers. Massaging also has many other benefits, such as stimulating digestion, improving circulation and weight gain. You can choose to use a moisturizer or baby oils during the massage, to allow your hands to slide over the skin, but be careful if your baby suffers from eczema or allergies.
Premature babies especially benefit from massage, as it speeds up digestion, thus aiding weight gain. It also regulates the heart rate, and encourages a calm state of mind. Massage has also been shown to help with brain development.
It is important that you listen to your baby during the massage. If your baby cries they are letting you know that they have had enough. Massage is a great way to soothe your baby to sleep, especially if they find it difficult to settle. By incorporating massage into the bedtime routine, you will encourage a good night’s sleep.