By Rae Mok
We all love a soothing massage to relax those tensed muscles, but do you know that giving a massage is also a way to show love? And the benefits are multiplied when it is done on your baby. Not only is it calming and comforting to your baby, it is also a great way to shower your love and strengthen the bond between you and your baby. Massaging promotes good health too!
When should you start this routine? Experts recommend you start the moment your baby is born! You may have heard of how baby massage can help babies cope with colic, sleeplessness, agitation, indigestion and all. But will you hurt your little, fragile baby if you do it the wrong way? What is the best time and environment to do the massage? And how do we go about doing it?
An expert in this field, Mr Nicholas Chang (NC) of MO Beauty, conducts training courses for parents and caregivers on Child Meridian Massage. He shares with us some tips on baby massage to allay some of our fears.
Can you highlight some of the benefits of baby massage?
NC: Baby massage benefits both the parent and the child.
Benefits for the parent:
1. Enables the parent to understand your child better through reading your child’s cues
2. Increases awareness and trains you to observe your child’s behavioural patterns
3. Helps to develop pre-verbal communication and sense of familiarity between new parents and child
4. Increases communication between you and your child
Benefits for the child:
1. Helps to develop and improve your child’s immune system
2. Induces relaxation and calms your baby and reduces crying
3. Aids digestion, relieves babies/infants with colic, gas and congestion
4. Stimulates your child’s physiological system. This enhances mental and neurological development
5. Improves blood circulation and absorption of nutrients
6. Improves and normalizes muscle tone
At what age should we start? What should we use?
You can start as early as when they are infants. But it is never too late to start caring for your child through massages. You can use any brand of baby oil you trust.
What is the best time to perform the massage?
Anytime in the day is fine as long as the child is comfortable. There isn’t a need to avoid any particular time of the day but do look out for cues from the child. Some children may not like it before a milk feed for example, as they may be impatient when they are hungry.
What is the most ideal environment to perform the massage?
We recommend carrying out the massage in a clean and quiet environment. A pleasant environment will help foster a sense of security, love, and well-being for your child during the massage. Dim lights, light music and cool surroundings (without switching on the air-conditioner as the child is not clothed) will help to create a soothing environment.
Is it helpful for parents to attend baby massage classes?
It's good for parents to know some techniques of baby massage so as to apply the correct strokes to their child. Currently, the introductory training on Infant & Child Meridian Massage that we conduct aims to introduce the benefits and techniques of meridian massage through hands-on sessions. Parents who are interested can take the class either before or after childbirth. Our massage techniques are different from that of the conventional massage, as we focus on Meridian Points which originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The Meridian connects every part of our body, so we believe it is the best way to start your massage. For example, to relieve a gassy stomach and improve digestion, you can do a gentle massage on the child’s chest. Start from the centre out towards the shoulders, starting just below the collar bones and slowly moving down until you reach the stomach. You can repeat this several times, always moving in a clockwise direction.
How long should the massage be carried out?
We suggest starting with a five-minute massage, then gradually increasing the duration only if the child does not show any sign of discomfort. If the child shows signs of struggle in the beginning or during the session, do take a break and check if there is anything wrong, before trying again. Sometimes a wet diaper can cause enough discomfort for the baby to reject the massage.
When should we stop massaging a child?
For our Infant & Child Meridian Massage, we target only children from 0-7 years old. But for normal massage, you can carry on as long as you wish.
With many thanks to Mr Nicholas Chang for sharing his expertise:
Mr Nicholas Chang
MO Beauty Pte Ltd
Child Meridian Massage Treatment & Training Centre (WDA Accredited)