Touch and massage can really help you bond with your baby, along with several other important developmental benefits.
Touch: Our First Language
In many ways, touch is our first language. Gentle and loving touch can help small babies grow stronger and feel less anxiety. Infants who are touched display more eye contact, smiles and vocalizations. In many hospitals and birth centers, newborns are placed on the mother's chest or abdomen to give them as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. The touch between you and your baby brings you emotionally close – a process known as bonding or attachment.
Massage is a wonderful way to help strengthen your bond. This is the key to a child’s development, as many researchers and clinicians feel that a positive maternal child bond helps to form the basis for future relationships.
In addition to helping you and your baby bond, regular massage may:
- Soothe baby and reduce crying
- Aid digestion and help relieve colic, gas, and constipation
- Help baby sleep more deeply and longer
- Relieve nasal congestion and teething discomfort
- Help develop good muscle tone, coordination, and suppleness
- Enhance body awareness
- Boost the immune system
- Improve skin texture
- Help calm and relax both parent and baby
- Boost parents’ confidence in handling baby
NOTE: Don't massage your baby if he's sick or if he's just been immunized — the area of the injection may still be sore
- Choose a time when your baby is awake and alert, not too hungry or too full
- Ensure the room is warm and lighting not too bright
- Have what you need ready: oil, towel, clean diapers and clothes
- Wash your hands and remove jewelry
- Use a safe and comfortable place to do the massage and position your baby so that he can see your face clearly
- Before starting, take time to relax with a few full breaths — this can help your baby relax too
- Babies are different, changing all the time. For instance, young babies may feel more secure if most of their clothes are left on and they feel close to their parents’ body
Use a small amount of an appropriately formulated oil or lotion, like JOHNSON’S® baby lotion. Use a small amount on your own hands — enough for your hands to glide comfortably over your baby’s skin.
It’s best not to apply oil or lotion to irritated or red skin. If a rash develops, discontinue use. Always read the label before using any products.
Through massage, you can gain increased awareness of how your baby communicates. You'll learn to read his likes, dislikes, desires and emotions. You'll learn the best time for cuddling, playing and relaxing. And your relationship will grow as you and your baby will discover what is best for you both.