Monday,18 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1311, (8 - 21 September 2016)
Monday,18 December, 2017
Issue 1311, (8 - 21 September 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Entre Nous: Time for a loving touch

Let’s talk about better living! Our interactive family corner aims to expand our lifestyle horizons with practical little pearls of wisdom from the editor and input from our readers

Long before babies are able to speak, they communicate with the world around them through touch. Affectionate touch and rhythmic movements are among the most powerful forms of communication between babies and their parents. The power of touch to soothe and heal is instinctive, and massaging your baby is an extension of this natural impulse. Besides being good for emotional well-being, giving your infant regular massages are great ways for you to bond.

If just holding your crying baby can be soothing, imagine how she could benefit from a full-body massage. In fact, studies have shown that massage can help your newborn to sleep more peacefully, reduce crying and fussiness, and alleviate common wail-inducers like constipation and colic. Some say that it even boosts a baby’s ability to fight off germs.

You can start baby massage from birth, though if your baby was premature you may be advised to wait until they reach their due date. It’s usually better to wait until your baby is about six weeks old before going to a group session for baby massage, as very young babies can find the environment a little too busy and overwhelming.

Although massage is beneficial for all babies, it is particularly useful for those with special needs, such as Down’s Syndrome or cerebral palsy, as it provides a unique way of communicating and soothing them.

Here are some tips to help you try baby massage at home:

- Giving your baby a massage is as simple as it is enjoyable. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes. Pick a time when you’re relaxed and your baby is quiet but alert. If you try to massage a fussy baby, you may over stimulate him and make unhappy. Try starting after a diaper change or as part of a bath-time ritual.

- Before you begin, make sure the room is warm and quiet. Take off any jewellery that could get in the way and grab some baby oil. Strip your baby down to his diaper and then lay him facing up on a soft towel or blanket with a pillow under his head. Begin by holding your baby’s hands and gently rubbing his palms with your thumbs a few times.

- Before beginning, ask your baby’s permission by rubbing a little oil between your hands over your baby and asking “can I give you a massage?” This may sound a little strange, but your child will become familiar with this cue and know that the massage is about to start.

- Once you have asked permission, gently hold one of your baby’s legs between your palms. With one hand, hold your baby’s ankle securely. Mould your other hand around the top of your child’s thigh, then slide it down the leg towards the ankle. Swap hands and repeat. Always keep your child’s ankle supported and use slow, flowing strokes.

- Cradle your child’s foot in your hands and use your thumbs to stroke over the sole of the foot from heel to toes, one thumb after another. This can also be done on the top of the foot. Gently squeeze and rub each toe between your thumb and finger. Hold your child’s foot in your hands and press the pads of your thumbs all over the sole of the foot. Finish by repeating the stroke in the opposite direction, i.e. from ankle to thigh.

- It can be a nice idea to introduce a massage after a bath and before bed as part of a bedtime wind-down. Avoid using oils that are scented, petroleum-based, or contain nuts, as some oil might get into your baby’s mouth. When massaging your child’s arms or legs, always support the ankle or wrist with one hand. When massaging your child’s tummy with a circular motion, go clockwise rather than anti-clockwise. If your child becomes upset or falls asleep, stop the massage.

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