Touch and massage can really help you bond with your baby, along with several other important developmental benefits.
Touch: Our First Language
In many ways, touch is our first language. Gentle and loving touch can help small babies grow stronger and feel less anxiety. Infants who are touched display more eye contact, smiles and vocalizations. In many hospitals and birth centers, newborns are placed on the mother's chest or abdomen to give them as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. The touch between you and your baby brings you emotionally close – a process known as bonding or attachment.
Massage is a wonderful way to help strengthen your bond. This is the key to a child’s development, as many researchers and clinicians feel that a positive maternal child bond helps to form the basis for future relationships.
In addition to helping you and your baby bond, regular baby massage may:
Soothe baby and reduce crying
Aid digestion and help relieve colic, gas and constipation
Help baby sleep more deeply and longer
Relieve nasal congestion and teething discomfort
Help develop good muscle tone, coordination, and suppleness
Enhance body awareness
Boost the immune system
Improve skin texture
Help calm and relax both parent and baby
Boost parents’ confidence in handling baby
Ready to start? Learn the proper techniques of baby massage by watching this video.
NOTE: Don't massage your baby if he's sick or if he's just been immunized — the area of the injection may still be sore
Choose a time when your baby is awake and alert, not too hungry or too full
Ensure the room is warm and lighting not too bright
Have what you need ready: oil, towel, clean diapers and clothes
Wash your hands and remove jewelry
Use a safe and comfortable place to do the massage and position your baby so that he can see your face clearly
Before starting, take time to relax with a few full breaths — this can help your baby relax too
Babies are different, changing all the time. For instance, young babies may feel more secure if most of their clothes are left on and they feel close to their parents’ body
Use a small amount of an appropriately formulated oil or lotion, like JOHNSON’S® baby oil. Use a small amount on your own hands — enough for your hands to glide comfortably over your baby’s skin.
It’s best not to apply oil or lotion to irritated or red skin. If a rash develops, discontinue use. Always read the label before using any products.
REMEMBER: Keep all products out of reach of children. Keep any baby oil out of children’s reach to avoid drinking and accidental inhalation, which can cause serious injury. Should breathing problems occur, consult a doctor or other healthcare professional immediately.
Through baby massage, you can gain increased awareness of how your baby communicates. You'll learn to read his likes, dislikes, desires and emotions. You'll learn the best time for cuddling, playing and relaxing. And your relationship will grow as you and your baby will discover what is best for you both.
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