As anyone with a newborn baby can tell you, those first few months can be hard; and you can often feel that you’re working your socks off with very little coming back from your baby!
A smile would confirm that they were happy, but with those generally not appearing until the 6-8 week mark, for a lot of the time you’re flying blind, and you often have to rely on the fact that they’re sleeping and feeding as their way of telling you they’re content.
Knowing your baby is happy and content is one of the best feelings in the world, and having the confidence of knowing that you’re getting it right for them is also amazing. However, if you do feel you’re struggling with bonding there are a few things you can do to drive matters along a little.
What is it?
Baby massage, for example, is not only a wonderful bonding experience between parent and baby but has a host of other benefits, including raising your confidence with your baby (which in turn helps them feel more at ease with you), helping with common ailments such as colic and trapped wind, and giving you a hand in getting baby to sleep.
How do you massage a baby?
If you don’t know anything about massage, it can feel like an odd concept so it’s okay to wonder how you’re going to massage your baby and what techniques to use. After all, you want it to help but you don’t want to hurt them.
Firstly, don’t worry if you’re not feeling confident. There are loads of courses you can go on. Many children’s centres offer baby massage courses, as do Health Visitors and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), so finding somewhere you can learn isn’t difficult and you could make friends as you do.
However, if you’re just looking for a few tips for at home massaging, here does.
Firstly, get yourself comfortable. Choose a time when baby is awake and comfortable. Make sure they’re not hungry otherwise they’ll be wanting a feed rather than a foot rub, and make sure they’re warm.
Many people choose to use oil when they’re massaging. There are some lovely ones available but really vegetable or sunflower oil works just as well. It’s always best to avoid anything with a scent or which is nut based as it’s possible baby could get some in her mouth, but you can have fun choosing.
Some people choose to strip them down to their nappy whilst others let them go nappy-free. It’s really up to you how confident you’re feeling but if you are leaving the nappy on, it might be more comfortable for them if you loosen it slightly.
Before you start to massage baby, you should always ask their permission. It sounds a bit daft I know, but by asking them if it’s okay you’re not only giving them a good idea that it’s their body and it’s up to them, but also that this is the start of the massage. If you’re planning to introduce this as part of a night time routine, rubbing a little oil on your hands and asking baby “is it okay to give you a massage?” is a great way to introduce the concept.
After that, take each leg individually and use slow strokes to gently go from thigh to foot, in a sort of “milking” action. Once you’ve done each leg, you can work on the foot, taking each foot and working your hand from sole to heel. You can give each toe a gentle squeeze and use the pad of your thumb to press on the sole of the foot.
Have fun, and enjoy the closeness!