When a child is born our whole perspective about almost everything changes. You begin to analyze everything about and around the baby. Much before conceiving my baby, there were a few things I was quite clear on about parenting. The ‘Gentle Attachment Parenting’ approach was my school for thought about babies.
And when I conceived my baby, I actually started reading about attachment parenting in depth, like why it is an ideal thing to follow and if that parenting style matches with my personality. So I decided to exclusively breastfeed my baby for the first six months and to continue along with solid food as long as we both want to.
As a part of gentle attachment parenting approach, I also decided to give massage to my baby by myself. Of course massaging baby has ample of benefits like improving blood circulation, improving weight gain, aiding digestion and soothing them to get better sleep but I wanted to focus at psychological benefits also beyond these physical benefits. For us massage time was and still is the time we bond (after breastfeeding) with each other…enjoy each other’s company with gentle strokes providing us all the benefits stated above.
Although the decision of massaging my baby by myself was not very well conceived by my most of my family members, but I could convince most of them by explaining them the scientific approach of touch which makes the baby feel secure and also helps the mother in bonding with a baby.
Next big thing was to learn the right technique of massage which should be gentle enough for a baby’s delicate skin. A baby’s skin is 30% more thinner compared to an adult’s skin and rubbing it harshly can have adverse effect instead of reaping the benefits of the massage. Hence, the idea was to use a moisturizing lotion or oil to minimize the friction and seal the moisture.
With every guest visitors came the bouquet of advises – how to hold the baby, best position for breastfeeding, how to decode the baby cues etc. etc. Few of them were completely helpful but there were some that I chose not to consider. But as soon as they learnt that I give massage to my baby by myself, I got a bag full of mixed advises. There were people who appreciated my decision of bonding over the massage and some who were skeptical about the idea, stating the techniques of Malishwali are unbeatable and how my baby would take longer to stand or walk. All because I refrained him from Malishwali’s(masseur especially for newborn baby) magical (read: harsh) touch! But the proof was right in front of people; my baby started walking independently a month before his first Birthday.
We have to understand that every baby is different and has different timelines to achieve any milestone. Having said that; massaging is just one way like other various things that can help in overall development; but is not the only criteria for achieving the milestone. So I would suggest please do not entertain such illogical and unreasonable advises.
If for any given reason a mother cannot massage her baby, it can be done by baby’s father or granny. Babies feel secure with known touch which is very important during their initial days of birth. Using a reliable and quality moisturizing product which is designed especially for the baby’s tender skin plays a vital role.
We generally tend to use oils like coconut oil, olive oil for massaging our babies without doing a patch test which can lead to skin allergy. I too experienced it with my baby. Since he was born during summers, elders recommended using coconut oil for its moisturizing and soothing properties. I wanted to be double sure with it, so I got an organic coconut oil for him. But after two days I noticed small boils all over his face. As a first time mother I panicked and called up my Pediatrician. He then clarified that it may be because of the coconut oil that may not have suited him.
Our Pediatrician then suggested using baby massage oil that is moisture rich, hypoallergenic and tested by Pediatricians and are especially designed for newborns like the Dove baby Massage oil. And yes, before using the oil I made sure to do a patch test behind his ears to check signs of any sensitivity.
Fortunately it worked for my baby’s skin as it is mild and non-greasy. My baby feels thoroughly pampered with the combination of gentle strokes and massage oil before bath and after shower. We use the moisturizing lotion to seal the moisture for all day long.
Hope you liked my take on baby massage as a part of Gentle Attachment Parenting Style.