Jan 24 , 2020
Our senses often have a huge effect on how we feel and think throughout the day. Many find themselves trapped under a blanket of anxiety upon seeing gruesome and scary pictures, while others often retch at the first whiff of a smelly trash can or canal. On the other hand, there are some who like to clear their heads and destress by smelling the divine aroma of lavender flowers and scented candles. Painters, sketchers, and other artists also draw inspiration from bold and beautiful sculptures or paintings wherever they are.
As the largest organ in our body, our skin is primarily responsible for letting us know when a place is too hot or cold, or when an object is dangerous and unsafe. This is why we have a habit of dropping sharp and pointy objects when we get hurt. In a similar fashion, our skin can also let us know when someone feels love, hatred, fear, or indifference towards us.
Think back to those high school days filled with petty drama and politicking. Did you feel relaxed at all when a complete stranger or less-than-stellar classmate suddenly ran up and hugged you? No, of course not. The rhythmic beating of your heart would abruptly stop, the warmth you once felt turned ice-cold, and invisible sweat slowly dripped from the nape of your neck to your fingers. In contrast, the rewarding comfort of a hug from a friend or loved one was a much more pleasant sensation that could relax shaking fingers and relax the beat of an unsteady heart.
The delicate touch and hug of a mother, family friend, or relative can have just as much of an effect on a baby’s mood and emotions. A simple caress of the cheek or playful pat on the stomach helps a baby feel treasured and happy, while a secure hug and hold reassures a baby that they’re safe from any danger or harm. In fact, when babies enjoy precious skin-to-skin contact with a loved one, their brains can release nerve signals that help keep them calm and satisfied, as well as hormones that help stimulate healthy physical growth and development.
Relaxation And Reassurance Through Daily Massages
The extreme consequences of isolation and lack of meaningful interaction between a baby and their caregiver have been well documented by researchers, child psychiatrists, social workers, and others. In a case study conducted at the Playa Ancha University, babies staying at a child care center were often found to be restless and anxious, easily agitated, and hostile or terrified of their environment. The mothers themselves had struggled to properly care for their children due to personal problems and inexperience.
Professionals at the center found that a daily regimen of gentle massages helped improve the babies’ problems with mood, temperament, and overall behavior. Since these massages provided the babies with a healthy amount of contact and affection, they soon began to eat more, felt calmer, slept peacefully, and became more trusting of people.
There’s no doubt that a gentle massage can mean a lot to a baby. This simple act can help them feel safe and cherished, and carve a precious bond that will last for years. While we adults can handle isolation and care for ourselves, babies need to know that they can always rely on their mothers and fathers to keep them away from harm and provide them with care and love.
The Best Time To Massage Your Baby
So, when is the best time to massage a baby? This would be just before bath time, when the baby has an empty stomach, and when the baby is free from sickness or symptoms of fever.
Massaging your babies before bathing them can help stimulate the skin and enhance their sense of touch. That way, the baby can fully appreciate the soothing sensation of warm water and enjoy a nice nap afterward. It’s also better to massage your babies when they aren’t full as this can avoid any problems with digestion. Finally, massaging your babies when they’re sick isn’t a good idea as their sensitive muscles need to recover from pain and discomfort.
People of all ages love and appreciate the feeling of a good massage, babies included. Feel free to give your baby a gentle massage no matter how many months old they are.
Setting Up A Good Environment
Babies benefit best from a massage when it’s done in a safe, calm, and loving environment. This isn’t referring only to place of course, but also to the feeling and mood radiating from the person they’re staying with.
Before giving your massage, it’s good to position yourself well first. If you and your baby are on the floor, rest your back against the wall to avoid any strain in your shoulders and neck. If you’re in a chair, lean against the backrest so you can support the baby in your lap. As for the baby, make sure they’re lying on their back with their feet turned toward your abdomen. You can also lubricate your hands with coconut, almond, or chamomile oil so your baby can enjoy a cooling sensation and aroma. Be sure to also trim your fingernails and remove any rings or sharp jewelry to avoid harming your baby’s sensitive skin.
Words and looks can reach not only the eyes and ears but also the heart and soul. Comfort and reassure your baby by giving them eye contact, speaking softly and calmly, and showing affection through body language. You can also use soft and soothing background music to help your baby relax and feel calm.
Proper And Gentle Execution
It’s always best to take things nice and slow in order not to shock or surprise your baby too much. Since babies and children alike appreciate routine, performing repeated and organized actions can help them get used to a massage and get rid of any anxiety they might be feeling.
First, gently move your fingers along the baby’s neck and make small circles just near the spine. When you’re done with their relaxing back massage, you can move on to the face. Place your thumbs on the sides of the baby’s nose and slowly move your thumbs down just near their mouths. After that, start again from the sides of the nose and move up to just above their eyes. Finally, gently massage the space near their ears using your fingertips.
To massage your baby’s chest, simply make small gentle circles along their torso. For the buttocks, just slide your fingers along the glutes and sides. As for the feet, gently rub the soles using your thumbs. To end the massage, hold out your hands and caress the baby from head to toe with your palms.
Good parenting isn’t just a matter of keeping a roof above your child’s head. It also involves giving your child reassurance through consistent love, care, and compassion. Those precious moments between you and your baby can mean so much more than you think, so do cherish and make the most out of them.