We believe babies’ growth and massages go hand in hand. Indeed, every culture across the globe believes in the power and goodness of massages. There's nothing like a nice warm massage to soothe your little one and help strengthen the bond between you and your baby. You being an active partner and the baby being a passive partner, both are enjoying a fun time with bonding over love.
It is believed that a massage also stimulates your baby's brain and improves digestion. Some parents even swear that a good massage is what puts their baby to sleep when nothing else works out. With so many benefits, it seems evident that you should massage your baby often.
However, recent research has revealed several really scary facts about massages and the mistakes we may be committing unknowingly. It’s best to stay informed about such mistakes so that we can keep our little bundles of joy sound and safe.
Every mom wants her newborn to grow quickly and be healthy. Massaging in the right manner is essential for the proper development of a baby. Massage helps your little one in breathing rhythmically, boosting immunity, building the brain, and stimulating growth hormones.
So, what is it that these experts are warning us against? Read on to know the 15 common but serious mistakes by moms while they soothe their babies.
15 Certain Oils Can Lead To Eczema
Which is the best oil to massage your baby? I know, most of you vote for olive oil or sunflower oil. But mommies, do you want to know a scary fact?
Here it goes: According to experts, babies should NOT be massaged with these oils as this could cause long-term damage to their delicate skin. Recent research says that such babies have an increased risk of developing eczema and other skin problems. Never use massage oils with a strong scent on your little one, especially if she is below six months old.
Essential oils are a definite no-no because some studies suggest it can be dangerous to a baby’s nervous system. These oils break down into fatty acids which damage the skin's structure, allowing irritants to enter and too much water to escape. So do what dermatologists recommend and use 50/50 cream, which is a mix of liquid and soft paraffin.
Coconut oil is considered a great option. Virgin coconut oil is believed to help heal eczema and is wonderful for massaging on babies. Be careful not to put oil into the baby’s ears, navel, or nose. Those are the areas you should more careful with while massaging your baby.
14 Creating The Wrong Environment
The environment you choose to bond with your baby while massaging might turn to be a big mistake sometimes. Remember, it is a very important activity. This is not a monotonous daily routine you are performing. It should not be while you are watching your favorite on Netflix, busy chatting with your friends on Whatsapp or while browsing Facebook.
The surroundings of massage you select should be comfortable for both you and the baby. The room temperature should be warm or else, the baby might end up with cold and infections. You can play soft music. Alternatively, sing or talk with your baby.
First of all, make yourself comfortable. Even a little bit of carelessness on your part may result in your baby getting scratched or poked. Smile and talk to him lovingly to bond with your sweetheart. Not only will this be a pleasant experience for you, it will also let your little one know how much you are enjoying spending time with him.
13 Putting The Baby In An Uncomfortable Position
Not only is the time and environment of massage important, the position is also important. Make sure you are sitting on a flat, even surface while massaging your little one. Place a thick cloth or towel on your lap. Take the baby on your lap and begin to massage. Ensure your hands are also warm.
If you want your baby to lie on a table, then don’t forget to place a thick towel underneath the baby. This is because if you hold your baby in your arms while massaging, there are chances he may slip and fall on the ground. Keep your baby on a soft cloth before you begin the massage to prevent him from getting rashes from the table surface.
A massage, when done right, will help relax your baby and boost your bond. But if your baby keeps crying and resisting this, maybe you are doing something wrong. In this case, consult a professional or your pediatrician to figure out what may be going wrong so you can correct it.
12 Soothing With Rings And Bangles On
Yes, that is right. Mommies in between their round the clock hectic routines, tend to forget what all they are wearing at the moment. You may take all the precautions for the baby to be comfortable and happy before starting on that a warm massage, but wait a minute! Have you removed your bangles and rings on fingers?
Those bangles might be a gift from your beloved dad on your wedding and those rings from your sweetheart. However precious they are, nothing is as valuable as your baby. So, please remove your bangles and rings before you proceed, as they may hurt your little one. If the bangles and ring have any sharp edges or stones, it may result in scratches which can lead to infections on the baby’s skin. We all know that a baby's skin is very delicate. So watch out!
11 Not Enough Eye Contact
Between parent and child, eye contact is a vital link of connection. Researchers have found that babies enjoy looking at faces of loving adults. Making frequent eye contact with your baby promotes their brain development. This teaches your baby to regulate and express emotions.
Focusing their eyes is one of the first milestones babies achieve, and it is an especially exciting one! It lets parents know that their baby finally “sees” them and that they’re important and recognized.
A stronger emotional connection is felt between parents and the child when their eyes meet. It is one of the ways of communicating your feelings with the baby. Then baby understands that you are expressing your love through your strokes. Even when you sing or talk, ensure that you are maintaining the eye-contact.
10 Does The Baby Have A Cold Or Fever?
As per experts’ advice, it is better not to massage your baby if she has a fever or is unwell. But others say that a gentle massage during a viral might help soothe body aches. If your baby has a fever, take advice from your doctor before giving her a massage.
Always take cues from your baby before you start the massage. During an illness, she might be cranky and may prefer not to have a massage as her skin is feeling more sensitive to touch. On the other hand, if your touch eases her body aches, she might settle to sleep with your gentle strokes.
If your baby’s temperature is rising, she might feel cold. So you can just rub and stroke her over her clothes, without undressing her. If her fever is coming down, she might feel hot and prefer to have fewer clothes. Observe your baby and try to see what makes her most comfortable.
9 Not Paying Attention To The Temperature
Oil can be used for a massage at room temperature. But, if you live in a cold area or during winters it makes sense to heat the oil to forty degree Celsius before massaging. More oil will get absorbed by the skin when it is in a lukewarm state. If the oil is cold, the absorption time would be longer. While you increase the temperature, be careful not to overheat it. Overheating or re-heating may cause the destruction of phyto- chemicals in the oil.
Check the temperature of the oil on your own skin before touching the baby with it. we definitely don't want the child and mom to get any nasty shocks from hot oil. Many parents tend to skip massaging during summers. But that is also a common mistake. Be it summer or winter, try to schedule the massage as a routine for the baby and in the long run, baby definitely will benefit from it.
8 Allowing The Baby To Crawl Afterwards
Leaving the baby all alone himself without any supervision to have their play time, after applying oil, is pretty dangerous. But surprisingly many mothers actually do this. Put down a mat, smear some oil, massage the little one and leave them on the mat to continue exercising their limbs.
Have you ever thought of this? I know most of the mommies feel or think that after the massaging, the babies can have a self-play time. That is okay if the babies are just lying down and not even able to turn on to their tummies. But be careful with crawlers and the toddlers.
Be especially careful with the little ones who are starting to walk. Oils are slippery and once the babies try to move around, they might not get the proper balance. It is very easy to fall down and get fractures or injuries.
Keep all the things you need while massaging near you. It includes your phone in case of emergency and toys to engage your baby. Do not leave the baby unattended while and after massaging before the oil is completely removed from his body.
7 Using Cold Water
Oil massage is essential for baby’s health and growth. No doubt in it. The selection of the degree of water for baby bathing is also as important as massaging. During massaging and after the rest time when it is time to give the baby a bath, moms may forget about the ideal temperature of the water they should choose to reap the maximum benefits.
Leaving oil on the baby’s skin after a massage is not a healthy practice. It will tend to accumulate dirt and dust on baby’s skin and result in itching and rashes. It also closes the pores on the baby skin. To avoid all these, it is very important to remove the oil completely from the baby skin.
If cold water is used, the oil cannot be removed completely. Using lukewarm water for bathing is the doctor’s take on this matter. It will not only wash off the remnants of oil from the skin, it is also more soothing more the baby.
6 Applying Too Much Pressure
While we apply pressure, we feel that we are helping in the increased blood flow and in turn strengthening the muscles and bones. It is a normal human tendency to apply too much pressure while massaging. But this is not a fully grown adult you are massaging. This is a delicate cute little piece, which is fragile and may get actually damaged.
Too much pressure or force cannot be handled by the baby and may lead to fractures as the bones are not strong. Light pressure while smearing the oil or lotion is more than enough for infants. As they grow old, you can increase the pressure you apply in small increments. Avoid vigorous rubbing movements as this may actually be stressful for the baby. Your baby is supposed to relax and enjoy this! So keep it gentle.
5 Is The Baby Fussy?
Don’t your loving touches and massages help calm her down? Is that right? But studies show that it is not true always.
Studies do tell that babies who are massaged regularly cry less, sleep better and are generally less colicky. But apart from all these plus points please do not try to play with your baby’s patience if she is in the middle of a meltdown.
When a baby is crying, her body releases stress hormones. If you massage her, you will end up stressing her even more, leading to a vicious loop of stress. At least this is what the experts in the field say. So what to do in these situations? Try to soothe your child by meeting her needs first: Is she hungry? Has she soiled her diaper, or is it time for a nap?
Watch for the cues and act accordingly. Please forget your daily schedule and set routines as they are not always practical when it comes to babies who are the most unpredictable things on this planet.
4 Not Knowing When The Time Is Right
When do you prefer to give your little one a thorough massage? Morning? Evening? Or whenever you get some time in midst of your busy schedule?
Be it morning or evening, say a big “No” to massaging your baby just after or before a meal or when your baby needs a snooze. Infants should not be massaged if they have just been fed. Give a gap of at least half an hour.
Many mothers believe that massaging should happen before the baby's bath. Sorry, that's not really necessary. Massaging has to be considered as a playful activity. So ideally, massaging would be benefited when the baby’s mood is happy. If the baby feels happy after taking a bath, then that is an appropriate time to give a healthy massage.
Use some vit-E based body lotion that's baby safe and allergy free. If you have given him a lavish oil massage, he may need a bath after that. You want your baby to be healthy and active, so don’t make it as a punishment.
3 Going On For Too Long
How long should I massage my baby? This can be a confusion for many mothers.
The duration of a massage will change as your baby grows. Some babies love messages right from the start so that you can take your time for a full body massage. This could be between 20 minutes to half an hour.
If your baby doesn't like massages, keep them short. Once your baby starts crawling or walking, you might find that she doesn't want to lie still for that long. Then a five minute massage will be more than enough
Baby’s cues will let you know whether she’s enjoying herself or getting bored. If you plan on giving her a bath after her massage, count that time in as well. You don’t want your baby to get too hungry or tired before her bath otherwise it will be difficult to wash her properly. In the case of infants, it best to massage them for at least 3 to 4 times a week for 10 to 15 minutes.
2 Using Oil Without A Sensitivity Test
Any baby oil or herbal oil can lead to skin allergy or reactions. This will not happen to everyone. But many babies have over sensitive skin. What happens if your baby is one of them? Considering how tender a Baby’s skin is, it is better to consult a doctor before starting to apply any kind of oil on the baby.
Even with the doctor’s prescription always try to do an oil test on a small area to make sure that the oil you chose will not end up in any adverse conditions.
How to do an oil test? Please follow the simple steps described below:
Apply a few drops of oil on the baby's forearm and leave it for 30 minutes. Keep a watchful eye for allergic reactions. If there are no allergic reactions, the oil should be safe to use. In case of any allergy such as rashes, discoloration or itching, consult a doctor.
1 Hiring A Professional
Hiring a professional baby masseur is a common practice in many cultures, especially in India. Many of such so-called professional are local midwives or ayurvedic vaidyans who are experienced in handling newborn babies. The kind of acrobatics these people put the baby through can seem scary. But they seem to know what they are doing. Even then seeing your baby hanging upside down can be quite an upsetting sight.
Sure, regular massages offer plenty of health benefits. But the biggest advantage is the parent-child connection, which is important for babies’ social, emotional and brain development. Don’t you agree?
Parents should keep this in their mind always - that every massage session is a “special time” for them to bond with their little ones; not an activity that should be carried out by strangers or even other adults, such as the babysitter, a domestic helper or even a professional masseur. Who will take care of your baby more than you?
Yes, it is right that for a working mom or for a career-oriented mom, there are practical difficulties for finding time on a daily basis. Even then, they can find time 10 minutes if they want to. Leaving this to you readers: you decide whether your baby is important or your career? Your decision and your life!