Touch is not only a reminder of the womb; like milk, it’s an essential nutrient for growth. And, in some ways, touch is even more beneficial than milk.
One study showed that preemies massaged for 15 minutes a day gained more weight and left the hospital on average one week earlier. (A year later these same babies had higher IQ’s than preemies just held routinely.) Other research found that healthy, full-term babies massaged daily cried less, were more alert and socially engaged and had lower levels of stress hormones.
There are lots of ways to massage, but here are a few tips:
Go ahead, get your “spa” on!
Who doesn't love a little pampering? About an hour after a feed, warm the room, dim the lights, turn off the phone and turn on soft music. Use warm vegetable oil; almond or avocado oil is great. Keep your baby warmly covered with a thick towel (or go luxe with a mini cotton robe!) Keep wipes and diapers handy, just in case.
Take slow, deep breaths to be fully in the moment. Massage is an exchange of love!
Connect with your baby.
Always try to keep one hand on her and softly talk about what you’re doing now and as well as hoping for her life to come.
Use smooth, repetitious strokes.
Warm the oil between your hands and start with your baby’s feet. Uncovering one limb at a time, use a fluid, but firm touch. Then move on to her stomach, chest, arms, hands, back, face, and ears, gently rotating, pulling, stretching and squeezing. Gently twist her arms and legs as if lightly wringing a wet sponge.
Follow your baby’s signals.
If your baby gets restless, it’s a sign to change your pace or end the massage. (Is she hungry?) Wipe any excess oil off of her body, letting a bit remain to nourish the skin.
Bask in the bliss!
Baby massage benefits moms and dads too because it lowers stress and boosts your self-esteem. Mellow baby, mellow parents...this is the life!