Giving a massage to premature babies has proven to have miraculous effects, helping the babies leave the hospital sooner than expected. Studies have shown that premature babies who received daily massage therapy developed more quickly, their immune system ameliorated, and their overall health improved. But that’s just one of the “adult” practices that are also useful for infants.
At Bright Side, we selected a number of things that parents will find remarkably beneficial to support their babies’ growth and health system.
1. Reflexology for stress relief
It’s almost an instinctive action for some mothers to rub their children’s hands or feet when they’re uneasy. What’s not so commonly known though is that babies also respond to reflexology. A gentle massage on their feet can help them relax and fall asleep more easily and can be used as a daily routine.
How to do it:
- Warm up the area by gently rubbing your baby’s feet.
- Start massaging the area smoothly and see how your baby responds.
- You can make this a daily routine to help relieve your baby of stress.
2. Touching and caressing for mental health
As a parent, you likely want to caress your kid instinctively. But it’s also been scientifically proven that children who were touched and nurtured more by their parents as babies have better mental health as adults because they develop stronger neuronal connections. “Having a hippocampus that’s almost 10% larger just provides concrete evidence of nurturing’s powerful effect,” writes Joan L. Luby, MD, Professor of Child Psychiatry.
3. Massage for relaxation and better health
Massage is a very popular form of stress relief for adults, but it has the same effect on infants too. Massaging your baby makes them feel secure and tender, and also helps babies who experience gas, cramps, colic, and constipation. It also lowers their stress levels. More than that, research has shown that giving a daily massage to premature babies helped their growth and bone development.
How to do it:
- Slowly and gently rub your baby’s body from tip to toe while they’re on their back.
- You can place your baby on their belly and repeat the same thing on their back.
- During the process, talk to your baby and keep eye contact with them. That will help them relax and feel secure.
- You can repeat this several times a day as long as your baby enjoys it. You can also try some essential oil or baby oil. But be sure to apply a small amount on your baby’s skin beforehand to test for allergic reactions or sensitivities.
4. Tummy time for stronger muscles
Tummy time is not just a fun parent-baby moment. It should be a regular practice because it actually helps the baby build stronger muscles. This way, crawling and sitting will be much easier for the infant as they get older.
How do it:
- For starters, keep your baby on your chest for short periods of time, even right after birth.
- Progressively extend the time they lie on their bellies. Be sure that you’re fully alert the whole time.
- After a while, the baby will be ready to do the same thing on the floor. Use a towel or a folded cotton sheet under your baby’s armpits for them to lift their head up with since it’s difficult for babies to do so on their own.
5. Vibrations and white noise to calm down your baby
Vibrations are proven to be one of the best ways to soothe your crying baby. White noise devices have the exact same effect, plus they help babies fall asleep and sleep longer. Dryers or washing machines have become saviors for desperate new parents. The static sounds, experts say, are similar to the body noises that a baby listens to in the womb.
How to do it:
- Get an infant seat and place it on the appliance. Set your baby comfortably in it and be sure to hold the seat to prevent it from moving out of place.
- Start the machine and let the vibrations of the appliance slowly calm your baby.
6. Drive with your baby to help them sleep.
Driving your baby to sleep actually works and experts say that we should try it more. Car motion works as a lullaby for babies because it mimics the motion babies feel inside the womb. This makes them feel secure and peaceful like they did in their mother’s belly. Tracy Cassels, a developmental psychologist, said that “[The engine of the car] is white noise that babies also are used to. This is a muffled kind of sound in the womb.”
7. Baking soda mix for mosquito and bug bites
Especially during the summer months, mosquitos and bugs can be tough on our little ones (and for us too). A natural paste of baking soda and water relieves them from the pain and itching. The alkaline soda neutralizes and eases the acidic swelling.
How to do it:
- Just mix a tablespoon of baking soda in water and create a thick paste that can be applied easily on the skin.
- Apply the paste gently on the bite and let it do the work.
- Wipe it off with a warm cotton pad.
8. Feeding is not always the answer to crying.
This is more of a “no-no” but it’s a piece of important advice coming from Harvard’s experts. Most parents tend to respond to every cry with a feeding. That is a serious issue, doctors say, that can lead to an overweight baby. A baby’s cry doesn’t necessarily mean hunger but also fatigue, boredom, or discomfort. “If every time a baby fusses they are fed, after a while they may start to think of feeding as what they need…creating unhealthy associations with eating that are hard to undo,” a Harvard MD says.
What to try instead:
- If you’ve recently fed your baby, you can try talking or playing with them.
- You can also try holding or soothing to help them relax.
- There is also the possibility that a diaper change is needed.
Do you have any special tips to share that will help new parents with their babies? Feel free to add them in the comments below.