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Baby massage or infant massage is a quite ancient practice of childcare. This has been a prevalent practice in several cultures.

The benefits of infant massage are numerous and well-known. In fact, regular massage has been known to help pre-mature babies as it helps them gain weight. It also helps reduce colic in babies, and it strengthens the baby’s immune system. Baby massage also helps in the overall growth and development of the bones and muscles of the baby. Of course, it is a relaxing practice, and thus helps the baby sleep better and remain alert during the waking hours.

When parents massage their babies, it helps them bond with their infants. And to top it all, it’s a whole lot of fun!

Here are some tips for a good infant massage:

·         When you massage your baby, make sure that you remove all the jewelry that you wear in your hands – rings, bracelets etc. – as this may poke or cause damage to the baby’s soft skin.

·         Before giving a massage, make sure that your hands have been properly washed. Make sure that you hands are warm and not cold when you touch your baby.

·         When you are going to begin the massage, ensure that you have all your oils, towels, bath mats, diapers etc. in place.

·         Spread the mat on a flat surface. Place your baby, undressed and with the face up, on the mat.

·         Your strokes on the baby’s body should be firm and smooth, but not too hard.

·         Use light circular movements on the stomach area. Avoid the spine.

·         The direction of the strokes on the arms and legs should be downwards, and the direction of the strokes on the back should be upwards.

·         Keep eye contact with the baby. Sing or talk to your child while massaging.

·         Avoid putting oil on the baby’s fingers or palms, as babies tend to put them into their mouths.

·         Avoid massaging the baby right after feeding, or when the baby is ill. Do not wake up the baby for the massage.

·         Avoid areas where the baby has rashes or wounds, or where the infant may have received injections, as this may cause further pain to the baby.

An infant massage is the best way to help the baby feel relaxed. Baby massage also helps improve your infant’s sensory awareness. It teaches the baby that touching is also a form of expression. Ideally baby massage should start from the day the baby is born and continue till the infant is 18 months old.

By Madhavi Ghare

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