Newborn Baby Massage Indian Style

Roll your baby onto her tummy. Using your fingertips, trace tiny circles on either side of her spine from the neck down to the buttocks. You can also use your fingers to make butterfly motions up and down her spine, or imagine lines from her head down through her waist.

Roll your baby onto her tummy, using your fingertips to trace tiny circles on either side of her spine from the neck down to the buttocks.

Introduce your child to the pleasures of massage. Early stimulation is essential for developing a sense of well-being and peace, so use these gently touches to build up trust and comfort. Properly stimulating your baby may reduce colic, help him sleep better and improve digestion and elimination, which will give you some much needed rest!

Indulge your newborn with a relaxing massage that will help soothe away the fussies, promote a healthy sleep schedule, and build healthier neurological development.

The newborn baby massage is an integral part of the process of bonding with your child. It is a very important step, as it will help in the attachment development between you and your baby. It also helps to strengthen the bond between you two, as well as improve your baby’s sleep, mood and behavioral problems.

How to Massage Newborn Baby

Traditionally, all babies are expected to go through the ritualistic daily massage. But is it necessary or helpful? M&B finds out.

BY AMRITA CHATWAL
ILLUSTRATIONS PUSHPENDRA KUMAR

A WEEK after I had my first baby, my mother-inlaw bore down on me with a ferocious looking amma, and said, “She’s here for the little one’s massage.” I shook my head in confusion. I was expected to place my tiny, delicate baby into the big, leathery hands of this scary looking woman? “I’m going to massage the baby myself,” I replied nervously. “Fine. I’ll show you how,” the amma bit out.

It was a revelation seeing the woman with my baby. She had the gentlest hands I’ve ever seen. She taught me the right amount of pressure to use, the strokes to massage my baby with and most importantly, to not fret over making mistakes.

My second baby had very sensitive skin and the pediatrician prohibited the use of any oil or cream on her. For almost two months, I resisted the urge to massage her—and it was an urge. I gave in then, massaging her with soft strokes, without any oil or cream. Why the urge though? I think I actually enjoyed the massage sessions more than my babies did!

THE INDIAN TRADITION
In India, the practice of massaging a newborn is passed down from generation to generation. There are women, like my taciturn amma, who specialises in postnatal massage for both mother and baby. Ayurveda recommends massaging a baby from day one. There’s also this long-held belief that regular massage can shape your baby’s physical features. What does the modern medical community think of this though? “If you think that daily massage is going to make your baby’s head rounder or nose sharper, then you couldn’t be more wrong,” says Dr. Arvind Taneja, a leading pediatrician in Delhi. “A massage can have other benefi ts, but that is not one of them.”

If you watch an old amma massage a baby, you’ll notice her applying a strange milking motion to the baby’s legs. These downward strokes are supposed to make a baby’s legs stronger, but there’s no scientific evidence to support it. In fact, Western theory recommends that the massage be done in strokes that are directed towards the baby’s heart, not away from it. Swedish massage upholds this theory. If your baby has circulatory problems, this traditional milking motion should be firmly eradicated from the massage routine. Surprisingly, there’s not been a whole lot of extensive research done on the benefits of massaging a baby. There’s no scientific evidence to prove that a massage  will make your baby mentally or physically stronger. The little research that has been done on the subject gives its results in possibilities rather than established facts. Why then, is baby massage so highly recommended—by tradition, by family AND by the medical community?

Professional Baby Massage

Sneha. This ancient Sanskrit word can be translated two ways in the English language: it means both “oil” and “love”. This speaks volumes to the nourishing effect that oil massage has on our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Daily oil massage is perhaps the simplest and most loving gift you can give your child. Baby massage, an ancient Ayurvedic custom still practiced to this day in India, has been finding its way into households here in the west. Many western parents are understanding that this massage sets the best foundation for your child’s lifelong health. Some tips: Ideally you will perform the baby massage right after bathing your infant. Wait until your baby is at least 1 month old to begin this wonderful ritual. This is when your baby’s body is strong enough for massage with the hands. FYI: in traditional Indian culture, the baby is massaged with a soft ball of dough dipped in a little oil and turmeric from infancy to 4 weeks.

THE OIL:

Our own BABY MASSAGE OIL covers all the bases. Be sure to use 100% organic oils to properly nourish your baby. Appropriate massage oils for baby massage include almond oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Be sure that the oil you use is 100% plant-based and does not contain mineral oils or synthetic fragrances, as these are petroleum-based and contain toxic contaminants. 

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THE MASSAGE:

1.       Warm the oil first in your hands or by placing the oil bottle in hot water for a few moments.

2.       Place your baby on a changing table or on your lap. Be sure to place a sheet or towel under your baby.

3.       Gently begin by applying oil to your baby’s scalp.

4.       Massage down the arms and then the legs. Use long strokes down the limbs, and circles around the joints.

5.       Massage your baby’s abdomen in a large clockwise motion.

6.       Optional: turn your baby onto its belly, and massage the back and buttocks – using long strokes down the back, and circular strokes on the buttocks.

7.       Wrap your baby in warm clothes or a warm blanket to settle down for a restful nap. Make sure the baby’s head is facing east, for the soundest sleep.

THE BENEFITS:

Baby massage has been practiced in India for centuries, and is an integral part of every family’s routine. Here are the benefits of the ritual, according to Ayurveda:

·         Activates important bonding hormones between mama and baby.

·         Promotes healthy and nourished skin.

·         Increases circulation of the blood and the lymphatic system.

·         Drains toxins from the baby’s body and strengthens the immune system.

·         Helps with baby’s digestion and bowel movements.

·         Helps with baby’s sound sleep.

As a parent, be sure not to neglect your own health – don’t forget your own daily Abhyanga massage! ~ Kiera

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