Massage for newborns: everything you need to know
Most of the newly minted parents are very sensitive about their newborn babies. They are afraid to take, squeeze, and press a small body in the wrong way. And it is not weird that after hearing the phrase “massage for newborns” some mentally imagine a picture where someone is carrying out the baby different manipulations, rubbing delicate skin with fatty oil. Others don’t understand how people can do anything on such a small part of the body.
And it is not strange, our vision of massage is very limited. Even adults can’t find the time for themselves and afford to go to a massage therapist for a session. It’s such bliss and it is also very useful for the skin, lymph flow, and muscles.
Massage for children of such a young age is known since the birth of Ayurveda medicine in ancient India. It was very popular during the Qin Dynasty in China. Nowadays massage is an important element of traditional childcare culture in South Asia and Africa.
Touch is necessary for the human baby as food. Massage for newborns makes the baby feel psychological and physical comfort, to establish close bodily contact with his mother. The massage is especially recommended for premature infants and babies who are on artificial feeding.
Massage for newborns and babies is a type of physical therapy which uses the impact of manual techniques on the baby’s body for:
- muscle relaxation (or conversely intensified);
- improve blood circulation;
- normalize lymphatic flow;
- remove muscle “blocks”;
- ensures the correct development of the musculoskeletal system;
- increase joint mobility;
- helps to get rid of nervous tension or increase;
- normalize sleep;
- improves the gastrointestinal tract, prevents colic and excessive gas formation;
- stimulates metabolic processes;
- helps to improve the condition of the skin;
- improve overall health and increase the body’s overall resistance to infections.
This type of additional treatment is practiced all over the world and is increasingly used to treat babies. Scientific studies have shown that in premature infants massage accelerates weight gain, increases the density of bone tissue, reduces the production of the stress hormone – cortisol, reduces the time spent on hospital treatment, improves mental and motor development.
Despite all the advantages of curative massage, it should be done on the basis of the pediatrician’s advice.
A pediatrician may recommend therapeutic massage to a baby for the following indications
- Congenital hip dislocation;
- Dysplasia of the hip joint;
- Umbilical hernia;
- Hypertonicity or hypertonicity;
- Colic or other digestive problems.
If a doctor prescribes a massage for your baby, indications may include birth injuries, congenital spine disorders, or nervous system diseases. It may also be used during rehabilitation in babies with cerebral palsy.
Newborn massage is also necessary for babies with developmental problems. It is necessary to take a course with a specialist in the following situations:
- The child doesn’t hold his head (after 2 months of birth);
- Doesn’t try to turn over from the stomach to the back (by 4-5 months);
- Doesn’t sit after 6 months;
- Can’t keep the back straight in a sitting position;
- Doesn’t try to get back on his feet by 8-9 months.
The strengthening of children’s massage is recommended even for up to one year babies who have no health problems. It promotes proper development and prevents the development of various pathologies.
Contraindication for massage
Body areas: babies don’t massage the area of fontanelle, the inner areas of the folds of large joints, armpits, inner thighs (at the age of up to 3 months).
Massage isn’t done in case of
- cute inflammatory processes;
- infectious diseases;
- skin damage (skin diseases) osteopenia and osteoporosis;
- severe lack of blood circulation ;
- diseases of the hematopoietic system;
Therapeutic massage can be done by a specialist with medical education, who has working experience with children of this age.
If you decide to go for a massage, or if you are going to do it by yourself (an easy variant) you must follow certain rules.
Rules of massage
- Your hands must be washed and all jewelry (rings, bracelets) removed;
- It is very important to warm your palms and fingers so that your baby is comfortable and not cold;
- Start the procedure 40-60 minutes after meals or 40 minutes before you feed your baby;
- The baby should be able to sleep well before the session, and it is not recommended to do it before bedtime at all;
- It is better not to apply special creams for children (they fill the pores), it is better to apply baby oil (a small amount) in the palm of your hand and rub;
- Move smoothly and gently, there should be no pain;
- In order not to lose emotional contact with your baby – talk to him intact with the movements, tell something, sing;
- Baby massage can be performed by you, or by a specialist who you can ask to come home;
- If the baby begins to cry or become capricious during the procedure, the massage should be stopped and tabled for a later time. If this reaction is repeated, you should see a doctor and consult to determine the cause. It is important to wrap the baby well and not to go out for 40 minutes after the session.
Simple but important rules to help you to perform the massage.
Try to get in touch with your child before you start your session (we’ve talked about this before). Gradually introduce new elements. Be careful and try not to grab and squeeze the tissues and joints of the child so that he is not in pain.
Main massage techniques for infants
- From 1.5 to 3 months: simple strokes that introduce the child’s body to new movements, tune, and relax;
- From 4 to 6 months: stroking, rubbing, kneading, vibration;
- From 6 to 9 months: stroking, rubbing, kneading, vibration, shock techniques;
- From 9 to 12 months: all the described above massage techniques are actively used. Special attention should be paid to the areas involved in straightening – the lower back, buttocks, legs, abdomen.
An important part of this procedure is to select the right babies’ massage oil. Why does it have to be oil?
The oil helps your hands slide over the baby’s skin. Let’s take a look at the oils that pediatricians recommend use to perform massages.
Lavender oil. This type of oil has the property of relieving pain after a massage. Its scent is comforting and relaxes the baby.
Mint and eucalyptus oil. Peppermint is a refreshing oil, recommended for children who have digestive problems. Eucalyptus is the best in the fight for clean airways of your baby.
Almond and apricot oil does not dry the epidermis, is easily absorbed and glides perfectly on the surface of the skin. Rich in useful fatty acids that nourish the skin.
Rose and rosemary oil. They have soothing and softening properties. Stimulates the regeneration of skin cells.
Camphor oil. It is usually rubbed on the baby’s back and chest. Such a warming compress (based on the product) can be used for colds. The liquid penetrates deep into fabrics and heats well. But if the child has a temperature, it is not necessary to apply this product. The oil can be used to children from 2 years old, who have no allergies, epilepsy, wounds and skin damage.
Ethereal oils. Such oils will help to calm the child. If the child is not yet 2 weeks, it is strictly forbidden to apply to the skin. Even if the child is older, you should be careful with this type of oil. And consult a pediatrician before you buy it.
Wheat oil. Wheat oil improves the regenerative function of the skin, promotes healing of cracks, scars and burns. You can actively moisturize your child’s skin with simple manipulations. Particularly suitable for care of dry and very dry skin.
And another very important nuance of massage for babies is that it has a positive effect on the relationship between mother and child. Between them increased affection, trust, mutual understanding and acceptance.