Massage and bath of the baby is a regime altogether as it has a very crucial role to play in nurturing the growth of the body. It is necessary to understand that massaging too is some kind of interaction with the baby. At the tender age when communication is not possible in words, these interactions become very meaningful. Try to understand the choices and the moods of the baby, as she is touched and felt gently.
Ensure that the baby is not massaged too soon after she has had her meal. Before massage all doors and windows need to be closed as she might catch cold due to the passing breeze. The best ambiance for massage is created when everything is calm and quiet. All jewellery needs to be removed from hands and fingers so the baby is not hurt; even the nails should be cut down to prevent the same. A child should never be massaged in haste or when the masseur is tensed. They feel the unrest and protest. Rather, a soft music played during massage can be really relaxing. Massage time is a healthy way to bond with the baby and she will respond visibly if she is enjoying the
In olden days newborn babies were massaged by the elders of the family with various kitchen ingredients,
depending on the sensibilities of the family and the health requirements of the baby. These days, this responsibility is often outsourced to babysitters and local masseurs who claim to be trained into this.
One word of caution for the parents here. Whoever provides the massage, make sure that you are present there to watch the expressions of the baby and stop the moment you feel she is discomforted. Wrong methods of massage has its damaging effects. Also it is important for you to know when the baby can be turned upside down for a back massage and stop anyone who is doing it before time. Massage is meant to sooth the baby. More often than not they sleep off after a good massage. So if the baby is complaining while he is being massaged then something certainly isn’t right. Or maybe, it is simply her mood.
Many products are available in the market for baby massage. However there is nothing like the kitchen and conventionally we have used coconut oil, mustard oil and olive oil for massage.
Coconut oil cools the skin. It is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and has antioxidants. Apply it gently when they have diaper rash and it works wonders. Coconut oil is considered to be the best oil to be applied on the baby.
Mustard oil offers a glow to the skin, lightens the skin, protects from ultraviolet rays, stimulates sweat glands thus opening the pores of the skin, has anti-bacterial and antifungal properties and helps repair chapped and dry skin.
Olive oil helps relieve stiffness of the body, hydrates and moisturises the skin, aides better sleep, strengthens bones, fades away marks of scars or cuts.
Whoever provides the massage, make sure that you are present there to watch the expressions of the baby and stop the moment you feel she is discomforted. Wrong methods of massage have its damaging effects.
There are also lavender, jojoba, apricot, aloe Vera, tea tree oil used generously on babies.
In the olden days special ingredients were mixed to prepare the oil that would be applied. My mother for example, prepared it with a recipe she inherited from her mother. She sourced fresh mustard oil, boiled neem leaves and garlic into it for long, separated the liquid from the remnants, grinded pulses and turmeric and added to it, allowed the mixture to settle, filtered the liquid again and applied that on my body so that the massage had lots of therapeutic effects, carried multiple benefits and offered natural protection from cough and cold.
Another extremely well known application is the use of hing or asafetida especially when the baby is troubled with stomach aches. A paste made of a few pinches of hing and a little warm water added to it, applied with the finger around the baby’s navel area in circular motion, and slowly moving away to cover the entire abdomen, helps combat the pain. Hing has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which is extremely effective in such treatments.
My mum-in-law prescribed that I grind some garlic and boil it in mustard oil, before applying it warm on the back of the feet, chest, nose, neck and back, if the baby is suffering of cold. It works wonders every time I do this, before bath and just before my son hits the bed at night.
I have known kids who are allergic to oil. They are given a quick massage with the natural cream of milk mixed with gram flour and honey, just before bath.
If the baby’s skin feels flaky, it can be treated with “colloidal” oatmeal and milk powder packed into a small ball of a soft muslin cloth during their bath, to gently scrub away flaking skin. If the baby develops flakes on his scalp, a gentle massage with a little jojoba oil and combing them apart helps.
Atta or flour rubbed over the baby’s forehead and body helps remove unwanted hair. The atta massage also helps in increasing blood circulation and in removing toxins from the body.
Many people don’t like to use soaps on the skins of their babies. Soap can harm the layer of protective oils from their skin. Gram flour, a small amount of turmeric grinded into powder, milk, cream or curd does the same job as that of soap on those tender skins.
Different baby seats are available in the market to make the bathing experience of babies enjoyable as well as hassle free. But I have also seen baby-sitters placing the babies on their legs with the faces on their feet. That is an extremely unhygienic process and should never be encouraged.
Also, during bathing, keep a watch on whether the baby is trying to drink the water that is being poured on her. Often babies have the tendency to do this, and we found out only after the doctor asked us to keep a check when he suffered an infection!
With all that you do, ensure that you have picked up the right choices that suits your baby. Have fun! Happy parenting!