Infant massage was introduced around 30 years ago in the ward to support premature infant development because it was assumed to be able to increase body weight, reduce the risk of bacterial infection, and prevent neonatal death up to 50%. Other benefits of infant massage are to improve bonding between the mother and baby, help the baby to relax, affect the baby’s stress hormone, enable the baby to sleep, and reduce crying.
Infant massage can be done daily, at least 45 minutes after feeding to avoid vomiting but observe the baby’s condition first. If the baby seems calm then it would be a good time. But if the baby’s body is stiff then it is better to postpone.
Here are some of the preparations and basic techniques of infant massage:
- Create a calm and peaceful environment. Massage the baby at a warm dan quiet place. Take off all jewelries and position the baby in front of the mother. The baby can be laid on a towel or blanket.
- Start slowly. When massaging, do it gently and not too hard or ticklish for the baby.
- Slowly massage every body part. Start by turning the baby over and massage different parts such as head, neck, shoulder, thigh, and leg. Repeat in supine position.
- Stay calm. Talk to the baby during massage. You can call his/her name or read a story.
- Observe how the baby responds. If the baby moves his/her hands and feet and looks happy then the baby might be enjoying it. If the baby seems anxious then it is best to massage at another time.
Many people choose to massage the baby using oil but we need to careful because the baby’s skin is sensitive and prone to allergies. Therefore, we should use a safe and edible oil. The oil is also one of the benefits of infant massage because it can improve skin barrier due to the fatty acid content especially in premature babies with skin problems.
Parents can try to massage their own infants with the instruction of a therapist or can also call in a professional at home. The benefits of infant massage surely highlight health benefits and quality bonding time.
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