Being Mom to a Newborn

One of the hardest aspects of parenting a newborn, especially as a first time parent, is learning your baby’s cries and cues. Is she hungry? Tired? Gassy? It can be hard to tell.

One way to connect and get to know baby better, is through massage. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  It’s free. And there are benefits for both you and your newborn.

 

To begin the massage:

  • Find a time when your baby is calm or in the quiet alert state (maybe after a nap).
  • Decide where you want to give the massage. You and your baby can have the experience on your bed, the floor or anywhere you and baby will be comfortable.
  • Gather a receiving blanket
  • An extra diaper and
  • Pour a small amount of vegetable or fruit oil (whatever you have in your kitchen) in a saucer or small cup.

Once you set up, get yourself comfortable and lay your baby on a blanket in front of you. Baby can wear a onesie or just a diaper, as long as her legs are exposed. (Babies typically tolerate leg massage since they are used to having their legs touched during diaper changes.)

Before beginning the massage, take a moment for you. Just relax for a moment. Let the tension flow from your neck, down your arms and off of your fingertips.  Babies can sense your tension, so taking a few moments for you also helps your baby.

Next, take a little bit of oil in the palm of your hand and rub it between your hands to warm it.  Your baby will hear the sound. Show your hands to your baby and ask, “May I massage you?” You are looking for her cues and willingness to respond.

Enjoy stroking one leg at a time much like putting lotion on his legs. As you stroke don’t forget the bottom of his feet and cute little toes. After you have massaged one leg, check in with your baby and read her cues. Does she seem more relaxed? Do you notice any difference between the leg that you massaged and the leg that has not been massaged? Your baby communicates through her body language. Doing massage helps you be more aware of her subtle language.  

How are you feeling? Have these few moments of massage helped you relax. A benefit of massaging your baby is that it releases oxytocin and other hormones that help both you and your baby relax.

Now check in with your baby. If he looks willing, put a little more oil on your hands and massage the other leg. As you massage you can talk to her, respond to her expressions or sing little songs.  

Once you’ve massaged both legs, take your hands and stroke from him hips to her toes. This integrates the legs, builds him body awareness and let’s her know that you are finished massaging the legs. A nice way to end the massage time is to pick him up, give him a hug and thank him for letting you massage him.

These moments together help you become more aware of your baby’s cues and begin building a loving relationship that will last a lifetime.

You can learn more about the many benefits of infant massage in the book Infant Massage A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala McClure or find an Infant Massage class near you by visiting www.infantmassageusa.org.

About WF Staff

Washington FAMILY Staff

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