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A newborn can fill your house with many wonderful things like beautiful memories and sweet bonding time. However, one of the many wonderful things that come with your little angel may keep you up at night and make you lose sleep – their cries. Putting an inconsolable baby to sleep can be next-level challenging, but once you have figured out the cause of it, things would be easier to deal with.
What are some of the common reasons? They may be hungry or they have just went number two. If your baby still cries after they are fed and their diaper changed, it is possible that they are experiencing colic or other bodily discomforts. In such situations, a good massage can do wonders. Nobody could refuse a good massage, not even your baby!
Understandably, even for a practise as safe as a massage, it is normal for you to be worried about the extent of what your baby can and cannot take. Also like many other things, fortunately, a newborn massage will not pose any health risks to your baby. Nevertheless, we understand that you would want to be as cautious as possible. In that case, here are several things you should consider before starting to massage your little one!
- Introducing Your Baby to Massage
- Choice of Oil
- Health Issues
1) Introducing Your Baby to Massage
Your little one may be a tough baby, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, wait until they are around two weeks old before starting with the actual massage. Prior to that, daily massage in which only light touches are applied without the use of any lotion or oil is highly recommended. You should lightly press their body parts and practise this every day from the first time they are brought home. The reason why it is safe to wait for days before using the oil is that your baby’s skin barrier has not fully developed yet by then. If you proceed to treat it with a foreign substance right away, there may be certain undue reactions on your baby’s skin to the substance you use.
2) Choice of Oil
To prevent any reactions on your baby’s delicate skin, stick with unscented and odourless oil. Just in case, make sure the oil you choose is edible if your baby has a habit of sucking their thumb. Pick oils that are suitable for use on sensitive skin. If your baby is already warm and cosy when you are about to massage them, putting cold oil may shock them and give them an uncomfortable feeling. Warm up the oil by rubbing them using your palms. If you are massaging after their bath, applying warm oil would especially help to calm them down.
Next, make sure the oil is not directly dropped onto their skin. Put several drops in your hands before rubbing and applying it on your baby. If you are worried that your baby’s skin could be more sensitive than what you expected, do a test patch. Using your finger, smear a tiny amount of oil on their elbows, behind the knees, or behind their neck. Wait for around 15 minutes to see whether there is any reaction produced. If there isn’t any, then that oil is safe to be used on your little one. You can do the test patch on any other night that you do not intend to start with the massage yet.
Yes, this can happen. How do you know if your baby is overstimulated? First, they may act cranky or cry even more if the massage is meant to calm them down. They may be showing signs of refusal by turning away from you or moving in a jerky way. Lastly, they may clench their fists, wave their arms, or even kick your arms so as to not let you proceed. Now, instead of putting your baby to sleep, you are putting them in even more discomfort and making them overwhelmed by the sensations or activity. This means what you are putting on your baby is beyond what they can cope with. Ramp down the stimulation by maintaining light pressure and going over each body part slowly. When starting at an area, begin with light touches before applying strokes.
Certain massage techniques, like the ones to be performed on their back, would require your baby to be placed on their tummy. While this position should generally be fine, they should not be left in that position for a long time. Once you are done with the back massage, immediately (but not abruptly) turn them around and have them lie on their back again. Make sure no parts are compressed, especially their arms and legs. This can prevent complications of blood flow that can lead to cramps. Since massage can stimulate circulatory and digestive systems, you do not want to give the opposite effects of the two on your baby.
As you go through as much information as you can gather from the internet, you are probably setting aside a time to perform this massage in your head. “This Saturday, after 9 PM, right around their bedtime.” Sounds like a plan? Yes, to you. Unfortunately, your baby might not think so if they are not in the mood for it. It sure is a lot simpler if all it takes is for you to schedule the massage according to when you have the time for it or when you want to do it, but most of the time, that isn’t the case. You would be surprised by how demanding a newborn can be when it comes to such activities. Since you need to have them in a calm mood before starting, some nights where they are extra fussy or cranky will not do. Don’t worry, it is not always bad! Perhaps on some other nights, your baby is behaving unexpectedly well and will go to sleep early. You may not get the chance to even slot in the massage between their bath and sleep time.
While this is pretty obvious, be sure to not perform the massage on a hard, cold surface. The best place to do it, aside from a wide bed, is on the changing mat. Not only they are already familiar with the place, but you also already know that they would be at ease having to lie there for some time. This will greatly ease your task at hand. There also should not be a fan or air-conditioner blowing near where there are, especially since they won’t have their clothes on while the massage takes place. If your baby has previously developed sleep association with music, you can put on calming music as the one they normally listen to before bedtime. This can help calm your baby down and make their eyes heavy. In case your baby is falling asleep by the time the message comes to an end, gradually lower the volume instead of turning it off abruptly. Often, babies sleep better when there is white noise around them.
7) Health Issues
You should already know this by now, but keep away from massaging your baby if they have certain health issues in which a massage may compromise their condition. If you are certain that their digestive and nervous systems can handle a massage, proceed to inspect their skin. If they have rashes or eczema, you may want to put off the massage until the skin issues are treated. Look out for symptoms that indicate sensitive skin. You may find tightness, prickling, tingling, temporary redness, or dry skin if your baby has sensitive skin. Your baby cannot verbally let you know whether they have the first three symptoms but if you see inflamed patches, chances are your baby is experiencing all of them. That is why you have to carefully choose their oils. Get a recommendation from a doctor or opt for medicated oil from the pharmacy.
You May Also Read this : When Is the Best Time to Massage Your Baby?
With all of the above said, let’s go back to the question that brings you here; is newborn massage safe? To that we say, yes it is, provided that you are considering all of what’s listed here in this article. Massaging your baby is a good way to relieve their aches, ease their colic, and to some extent, put them to sleep. Make sure to follow the proper steps of baby massage and you’re good to go!
If you have more specific questions in regards to newborn massage, you may talk to our massage therapists as they teach you the techniques firsthand. Our therapists have been professionally trained to perform baby massage and they would be delighted to share their knowledge and skills, so be sure to extract as much information as you can!