by SARA AHMAD
You'd probably love a massage right now, and so would your baby! Rubbing her the right way can help her sleep soundly, grow faster, and get smarter
Can't keep your hands off your newborn? Those tiny toes and chubby thighs are absolutely impossible to resist. Fortunately, there's no need to. Your infant loves to be caressed. The skin has more than 5 million sensory receptors. Lots of good things happen when you give a baby a massage. Infants who have their skin stroked regularly cry and fuss less than those who don't, perhaps because the skin-to-skin contact lowers level of the stress hormone - cortisol. They also sleep better, thanks to the touch-induced release of the hormone - melatonin. Massage has even been shown to bolster a little one's immune system, motor skills and intellectual development, and promotes healthy weight gain. Although, giving a massage is largely instinctual, we'll guide you through some basic techniques to make sure that you and your child get the most from this special bonding opportunity.
Knead To Know
· Time It Right: Your baby should be in a quiet yet alert state. Try just before or after bath time.
· Get Comfy: Sit on the floor or the bed with few distractions and place your baby on a fresh sheet.
· Start Low, Finish High: Babies are used to having their legs toughed during diaper changes, so begin there and work your way up.
· Wait For His Cue: Make your baby part of the process by asking if he's ready for a massage. He can't answer, of course, but an infant who's looking at you, smiling, or reaching out is ready to interact.
· Use Lubrication: Using oil rather than your bare hands helps your child enjoy the massage more. Choose natural, edible oil like almond, sunflower, or coconut, and avoid anything scented.
1. Legs & Feet
Begin with your baby lying on her back. Cup her heel in one hand, and use the other to stroke her softly from the outside of her thigh down to her foot, this stimulates circulation and helps relax muscle tone. Continue from the inside of her thigh and work your way down to the ankle. Repeat each stroke several times. Then cradle her foot in both hands, and alternate pressing your thumbs one at a time from heel to toes. Gently roll each toe. Repeat on the other leg.
Stroke your baby's belly in a clockwise motion to help move gas out of his intestines. Draw the letter 'I' on his left side by gliding your fingers from just below his ribs down to his hip. Form an upside-down 'L' (for "love") by stroking your fingers from his right to left side below his ribs and down to his left hip. Create an upside-down 'U' by starting at his right hip, moving your fingers up the right side, crossing them under his ribs, and then moving down to the left.
3. Arms & Hands
Hold your baby's wrist in one hand. Softly wrap your other one around the top of her arm, and glide it from her shoulder to her wrist. Reverse the stroke, and repeat it several times. Press your thumbs one at a time up her palm. Then gently roll each finger. Hold her wrist and stroke from her wrist up to her shoulder. Change hands and glide along the inside of her arm from wrist to shoulder. Switch to the opposite arm.
Wipe any residual oil off your hands. With the pads of your fingers; make small circles on his cheeks. Place an index finger at the inside corner of each eye. Gently glide across his upper cheeks. Start above the middle of his lip and stroke outward several times, following the lip line. Start above the chin and do the same thing. Then, using your fingertips, stroke the front, top, and back of each ear.
Turn your baby onto her tummy. Draw small circles with your fingers down one side of her back to her buttocks and back up the other side. Avoid stroking her spine. Next, lay both hands on her upper back, thumbs meeting. Glide them back and forth as you stroke from her shoulders down to her bottom and then back up. Don't put too much pressure. If she's not enjoying this position, change it.