Babies are born out of the water and soft tissue within the mother’s womb into a hard and fixed bed and do not have the ability to move and turn besides hand and arm movements for the first three months. Thus the baby massage frequently applied in his/her first months is important for both his/her physical as well as motor development.
Benefits of baby massage:
● It supports the development of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and nerve-muscle coordination.
● It strengthens the immune system and as such provides resistance against cold, flu and similar infections that are frequently observed in babyhood. However, this should not be done if the baby has an infectious disease as it causes the infection to spread more quickly as it increases circulation.
● Massage increases the secretion of the endorphin hormone, which is a pain killer, and relieves pain. During times when he/she experiences pain, such as gas pain or pain experienced while he/she cuts a tooth…
● It is a ritual that eases his/her going to sleep and ensures a sound sleep.
It speeds up the absorption of nutrients and gives him/her a good appetite.
The most advanced sense is his/her “sense of touch”. A sense of touch is extremely important in a child getting to know his/her environment during babyhood. The baby establishes connection with his/her surroundings when he/she is touched or hugged and his/her development is supported. Baby massage is one of the ways for parents to establish communication with their babies. Massage is an effective method that ensures integration between the baby and parents, and supports his/her development from a physical and mental aspect as well as being a relaxation technique. Besides its many benefits, such as contributing to the healthy development of the baby, accelerating circulation and making him/her burp, it is a timeframe that strengthens the bond between the baby and parents, and makes the time they spend together fun. Whereas from a psychological point of view, skin contact between the baby and the mother stimulates the secretion of “prolactin” (milk hormone) and ensures that the mother-baby bonding process and breastfeeding are performed in harmony and successfully. Sense of touch gives the feeling of being safe to the baby. It diminishes tenseness, anxiety, and fear, and calms and relaxes. It enhances the confidence of the mother, and this feeling of peace she experiences is also passed to the baby.
Preparation for Massage
The baby should not feel cold in the temperature (27-28 degrees Celsius) when naked. There should not be any open wounds on the hands of the person giving the massage (parents or caretaker) and hands should be washed with warm water. Care should be taken to ensure that nails are short, and all jewellery is removed.
While giving the massage, completely focus on the baby and turn off phones in order to experience a union with him/her and as the massage is being given accompanied by light music you like; talking to the baby, kissing him/her, playing little games and establishing eye contact will increase the joy obtained from the massage for both parties.
Of course the subject of when is also important. You should choose a time frame such as half or one hour after breastfeeding, when she is calm and ready for massage. If the baby is in a tired and irritable state, postpone the massage.
Massage can be given to little babies in your lap. In older babies, it can be done on the floor by placing a blanket on top of a cover. You should use oil so as your hands may move freely while giving a massage; you should first start with light touches, and as the baby gets used to it you should continue by lightly pressing down.
Slide your thumb towards the forehead of your baby through his/her brows; this/her will calm him/her and help him/her to doze off.
Apply very slight finger pressure starting from near the eyelids down to the nose wings. This/her will open up the sinuses and relieve the baby.
Pull the upper and lower lips of the baby as if he/she were smiling with your index fingers by pulling them under the cheekbones, and upon reaching the jaw joint apply circular movements with your fingertips. This will relax the mouth and cheek muscles that are tired from sucking.
Hands are placed by the chest and each hand is moved to the opposite shoulder (butterfly movement).
Arm and Leg Massage:
Both arms are patted towards the shoulder starting from the hands, this is followed by slightly squeezing with one hand below and one above, starting from the wrist and moving them until the shoulder, which stimulates thorough circulation. The same movements should also be applied to legs as well.
The baby should be laid down face down on your lap or on a blanket placed on the floor, and should be patted starting from the head with one hand down to the soles of his/her feet. The massage should be felt in the baby’s entire back, followed by movement to the sides with your hands; pushing one hand and pulling the other and then applying little taps on her back with your fingertips. (This will relax the back and make the baby aware of his/her body)
We also know that each mother will find enjoyable and suitable movements she will apply to her baby by putting to work her creativity. We have suggested a few massage movements, but you could enrich them much more.