Being a first time mommy I had my own apprehensions. And believe me, every small thing made me worried. What will I do if the baby cries incessantly? Will I understand why she is crying? What will I do if she doesn’t take milk? How will she sleep, how often will she wake up? How will I know she is having a tummy ache? And most importantly what kind of clothes, nutritional supplement needed later, diapers and of course the vital skin care-baby care products (talc, massage oil, baby cream, baby lotion etc.)should I use for my baby?
Oh my god!!! I was crazy.Lot of research went into answering all these questions. There were so many things to take care of. Just like all new mommies, discussions with fellow moms, mother-in-law, my own mom and ‘Google’ helped me sail through.
So before my baby was born I was ready with a list of shortlisted/recommended products to check which would finally suit my child.
When the baby was finally born and we were trying to get into a routine I realized the most important activity of the day after feeding& sleeping was the massage for the baby
Certain things that I learnt from my mistakes and my experiences and reading several parenting websites-This is A to Z of massaging for moms of newborns-
When to start massaging the baby?
• As early as one day is also a good time to gently touch and stroke your newborn. But my doctor had advised me to start a whole body massage only after the umbilical stump falls off (to minimize the risk of infection around stomach), but you can stroke her legs and hands from day one.
Who does the massage?
• My mom and mother-in-law insisted I have a “malishwali mavashi” (an old lady in nine yards saree-well experienced, expert and gentle) for my daughter.I tried to convince them that I would do it, but I had to give in to their demands after a C-section.
But to my favor, within a few days when mavashi started appearing once a while, I decided to grab this opportunity and insisted I would massage my own child. The child’s sense of touch is the strongest when just born, and the mother’s touch is the best a child can start experiencing and understanding. Full of love and care, reliable and trustworthy.
Why a massage is important?
• Emotional benefits- I had read on all parenting websites that massage is an excellent way to bond with your own child. I took this opportunity and while gently stroking my child I used to talk to her, sing to her, tell her stories. She started recognizing her mother’s face and voice apart from the smell and touch. I was bonding with my darling. I felt relaxed too when massaging the little one. It was a rejuvenating session for both of us.
• Physical benefits-
Massage helps strengthen the muscles of the baby and improve blood circulation. It also helps aide digestion in the baby. It helps them in healthy weight gain as well (better digestion). Your baby sleeps better when massaged properly. And good sleep and good digestion leads to a better physical and mental growth.
Right time to massage your baby:
I realized there is no specific time for massaging your baby but I took care that it is not immediately before or after her meals. I also kept in mind that it is generally before she slept. Also when I was in a hurry or multitasking with chores, I avoided massaging. Because massaging has to be a separate bonding time, where baby and mother are both relaxed. Also on some occasions when she did not want a massage (where she twisted and turned while I was trying to massage her) I let it go. Babies may not be in a mood too sometimes. Generally, since I was a SAHM I tried to stick to her massage schedule but sometimes when it was not possible I chose some other better time for her.
How to massage and where and for how long?
• Gently stroking the baby without applying a lot of pressure works the best. The child should feel relaxed and not hurt. For the feet- stroke lightly from heel to toe, for the legs- stroke from ankle to hips, for hands- gently move your hands from shoulders towards wrists and fingers.For upper body gently stroke inwards from shoulders to chest. For tummy- Circular, clockwise strokes. For back- Move from head to toe. At any point if she was uncomfortable I moved on to next step or stopped completely.
• A 10-30 minutes gentle massaging is good enough for the child. But I was always discreet and massaged only as much as she was comfortable with. I did not stick to the parameters all the time because each child is different and every day is different.
• I chose a nice, warm and cozy room for my little one with optimal natural light where she would be comfortable at room temperature without her clothes on.
Most important- What to use
Like all mothers, I had always wanted and preferred very natural, chemical-free skin products for myself and the baby as well. Typically we mothers prefer oils that will have all natural ingredients, non-mineral based because only then they will be chemical-free and something which will be nourishing and extremely gentle on the extra sensitive skin of the baby.
The only name that came to my mind was Dabur. A brand which we have grown up with and still use. I decided I would go with the same for my child. The company recently launched “Dabur Baby massage oil” with olive oil, almonds and natural ingredients like Sunflower, Sesame and jojoba which makes bones & muscles strong & keeps skin free from diseases. Olive is known to help faster muscle development & quicker bone formation & Almond is known to make the skin soft & supple. Nothing better than a total natural- chemical free product.
Till what age can you massage
Typically a child is patient and loves massages till age of 1.5 years (before extensive physical activity starts) but I feel that since the child is more active physically after the age of 2-2 .5 years, she needs this massage even more during these foundation years. After my child turned 2years, she hardly had the patience to sit quietly in a place for 10 mins, forget about the massage.
But I have tried to maintain a routine and still do a hand and leg massage before she goes to bed at night. After a busy day full of running, jumping and lots of other activities she needs some good massage at the end of the day to relax her muscles. And the end of the day talk to relax her mind. She sleeps well after a massage and am rest assured that her bones and muscles will strengthen faster with a good massage.
The bond that takes shape is precious and especially when she says,“Mamma I will massage your legs too. You will become strong like me and feel better too. And your legs won’t hurt anymore.” That’s the biggest reward of massaging