I just had a baby 3 months ago, and I have heard about baby massage. Where can I learn more about it, and what type of lotion or oil should I use for the massage?
Nadine in New York
Congratulations on the birth of your baby. There are so many benefits to giving a baby massage. According to the International Association of Infant Massage, some of the benefits include:
– Infant parent attachment or “bonding”*
– Makes baby feel loved
– Promotes better sleep
– Facilitates body awareness
– Boosts immune system
– Sensory stimulation
– Improves skin condition
– Improves blood circulation
– Helps digestion
– Balances respiration
– Relief for teething pains
– Helps waste elimination
– Helps you learn about your baby (Their needs and desires)
– Relaxes parents
– Helps build parents’ and baby’s self-esteem
– Pleasurable experience
– Stimulates production of oxytocin (Oxytocin is a hormone which can be produced by both male and female persons during massage. It is useful as a pain reliever and has a calming effect on the person.)
Before you begin, you should speak with your pediatrician to insure that your baby has no contraindications for massage.
Next you can locate a baby massage class in your area to insure that you receive proper instruction in the massage process and use of massage products. You may locate a class through a local community college, massage school, or on line at the International Association of Infant Massage, Loving Touch, Infant Massage USA, the local children’s hospital or your local massage therapist in your favorite spa. In addition, some mommy and me classes also teach baby massage.
When it comes to selecting a product to use, remember that with newborn skin care, the adage “less is more.” Pediatricians advise that exposure to chemicals and other potential allergens can set the stage for skin allergies later in life. It is best to not use baby products in the early months. The immune system is still developing. If you have a family history of skin problems, allergies, or asthma, it’s especially important to protect your baby’s immune system and protect baby from irritating allergens.
When massage is used with newborns, oil may not be needed. However, studies conducted at the Touch Research Institute indicate that the use of oil had a better response than not using oil. Natural cold-pressed or organic oils, such as sunflower, sweet almond, apricot, sesame seed or grapeseed oil, will nourish your baby’s skin and give a very smooth and pleasant feeling.
Stay away from commercial baby oils, as most babies are allergic to them. Some baby massage oils contain liquid paraffin oil and liquid hydrocarbons, which could harm their skin. Stay away from any fragrance products.
Do a spot test by applying a dab of the oil to the inside of your baby’s wrist at least one hour prior to the massage. If the area reddens or shows any sign of reaction do not use the oil.
Do not use mineral oil-based lotions (baby oil), peanut oil (peanut allergies may be common) or baby powder. The reason for using natural and organic oil is because babies put their hands in their mouths. The use of unscented oil makes them able to recognize their mother’s scent. The lotion or oil should always be applied to your hands, warmed by rubbing your hands together and then applied. It is recommended that you do not use powder, because if it gets into the air, or on the babies hand or arm they may ingest it or breathe it in.
Do seek classes so you can learn about the correct way to perform the massage, the right amount of pressure and how to use massage to relax and calm your baby. Thank you for your question, massage is a great way to keep your baby happy and healthy. In addition they will sleep longer.