safe motherhood


Baby massage

There's nothing quite like a massage for soothing and calming both you and your baby. It can be done from birth, but many parents feel happier waiting a month or two until their baby is more robust.

Have everything ready before you start - massage oil, tissues, a clean nappy and clean clothes. Make sure your fingernails are short and take off any bracelets or large rings. Undress your baby and lay them on their back on a towel or changing mat, facing you.

Rub about half-a-teaspoon of oil, either a baby massage oil or a vegetable-based oil - aromatherapy oils designed for adults shouldn't be used - over the palms of your warm hands. Use just enough oil to let your hands glide smoothly over the skin. Apply more as required.

The basic movement to use is a firm but gentle stroke with either your fingers or the whole flat of your hand. Never use deep pressure when you massage a baby. Talk or sing to your baby while you massage them and keep eye contact. Try not to break contact with your hands abruptly. Use light circular movements on their chest and tummy, and stroking movements across their shoulders, down their arms and legs, and up their back - avoiding his spine. Don't get any oil on their hands, as they may put them in their mouth or eyes.

When you've finished, wrap your baby in a clean, warm towel and give them a cuddle!

When not to massage

• Don't give your baby a massage near feeding time - one hour before or after is best.
• Never wake a baby up for massage.
• Don't massage an ill or fractious baby.
• Wait 48 hours after immunisation jabs and then avoid the injection site.
• Don't massage over rashes or wounds without professional advice.

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