Want a happy, relaxed baby? Why not try some bonding with baby massage? Here's how to do it...
We caught up with Dermatologist and AVEENO® Baby expert Dr Stefanie Williams from Eudelo Dermatology & Skin Wellbeing, to find out her top tips and advice for massaging your baby.
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What are your top 3 massage techniques to use on a newborn?
Newborn babies’ senses can become over-stimulated in the first few weeks of life, so slow and confident strokes down their backs are generally thought to be most comforting. For example, hold baby close to your chest, start at their neck and then take slow swooping strokes down to their bottom.
Another helpful technique is the resting hand technique, which simply means resting your hand on your newborn before starting to massage, providing comfort and security for your baby. It can also be used to give your baby a little break during massage time.
As your baby gets used to having their legs touched during nappy changes, you can begin to massage your baby’s legs and feet. Start with a small amount of emollient such as the AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Baby Moisturising Lotion, in your hands, then gently squeeze and roll each toe between your fingers. Using alternate thumbs stroke the top of the foot from toes to the ankle. Repeat several times for ultimate baby bliss!
What are the benefits of baby massage?
With regular physical touch, your baby will feel more comfortable getting used to life outside the womb. By including baby massage in your daily routine you’ll have the chance for more bonding time, more sensory exchange and can help enhance baby’s health and development. Some noted benefits of regular baby massage include:
- Helping you understand your baby better
- Aiding digestionHelping baby calm down and drift off to sleep
- Enhancing body awareness
- Boosting the immune system
- Moisturising baby’s skin when using an oil or lotion as part of the massage
How can baby massage impact their sleep? If at all…?
A tired baby is not usually a happy baby. I can certainly say that also from my own experience as a mother with three (now teenage) children. When baby is tired, she/he often gets grumpy. Help your little one drift off to sleep with a skin caring routine that will help ensure a peaceful night for the whole family. Begin the bedtime routine with a lukewarm, short bath, using a bath product that is gentle enough to be used every day such as AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Baby Gentle Wash. Once your baby is dry, create a calming environment with dim lighting and help them drift off to sleep with a relaxing massage using a baby moisturiser such as AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Baby Moisturising Lotion.
Advice to a new mum: why should they baby massage?
Moments after coming into the world, your little one will recognise you with all five of their senses. Using a calm voice, eye contact and a gentle moisturising product, baby massage can later continue to build the emotional connection between you and your newborn baby. An example of a suitable baby moisturiser is AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Baby Moisturising Lotion, helping you to build a skin caring routine to keep babies happy and healthy from the moment that they are born.
When should I stop baby massaging?
There is no age limit for baby massage. However, as your baby starts getting older and more mobile, it may be hard to keep them still for long! Helping them learn about a skin caring routine will help them understand the daily practice better later, when there might be an enhanced need such as the onset of a skin condition such as eczema, or the application of sun protection when needed.
Is there a difference with using oil or cream?
Not really but make sure that you use a product that is suited to delicate baby skin, something that will not only relax your little one, but also nourish their skin too. One of the suitable products is the Aveeno Baby Daily Care range, which includes oats – an ingredient that helps soothe skin by protecting and restoring the skin’s natural barrier.
How can mums be extra cautious when their baby has sensitive skin?
Particularly sensitive skin can make babies feel uncomfortable, especially those suffering with intense dryness and are prone to skin conditions such as eczema. Using a skincare range that is created especially for very dry, itchy skin, will help by gently cleansing and moisturising sensitive skin. One of these examples is the AVEENO® Baby Dermexa range which has been clinically proven to moisturise and soothe dry, itchy skin, containing oat complex and ceramides to help prevent water loss and help to build the natural skin barrier to protect against external factors and drying.
In babies with sensitive, eczema prone skin, it is important to introduce a daily skincare routine, making sure that their skin is kept comfortable and well hydrated, in order to break the vicious circle of impaired barrier function, water loss, dry skin, inflammation, further water loss etc. Lipid rich emollients such as the AVEENO® Baby Daily Care range should be applied several times per day and are suitable for babies prone to eczema.
Should mums be aware of a different skin regime for winter and summer?
Winter is a key time to nourish and protect delicate skin - from bath time through to bedtime - and to also ensure you’re following a skincare routine which suits your little one’s needs. Here are my top tips for parents looking to ease their baby’s discomfort and eczema concerns for the cooler months.
Don’t strip the skin
Bathing your baby too frequently can strip the skin of essential oils, leading to an impaired skin barrier, especially when the skin is naturally more dry and irritated in the cooler months. Every 2-3 days, give your baby a lukewarm bath with a special bath emollient such as the AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Moisturising Wash to help soothe and preserve the skin’s natural barrier function.
Layer, but don’t bundle
Ensure to layer your baby’s clothing when out and about, in order to be able to quickly dress or undress them according to the changing temperatures during winter months. Dressing your baby in lots of thin layers will allow your little one to adjust quickly before they get irritable or begin experiencing any skin irritation if too hot/cold. Delicate baby skin can potentially become irritated through being too hot, as well as being too cold.
Help the skin to breathe
Clothing made from natural fibres such as cotton can help your little one’s skin to self-regulate. When wearing non-breathable synthetic fibres, your baby may become too hot and their sweat can irritate the skin. In addition to non-breathable synthetic fibres, wool should also never be directly against baby’s delicate skin, as it can be very irritating for sensitive and eczema prone skin.
Always apply an emollient
If your baby is prone to dry skin or eczema, make sure to apply an emollient in between flare-ups. I recommend lipid-rich, fragrance-free emollients such as the AVEENO® Baby Dermexa range, which is specifically formulated for babies’ skin. The AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Daily Emollient Cream is great for repeated application during the day, while the AVEENO® Baby Dermexa Good Night Emollient Balm provides a thicker and richer cover, which is particularly useful for night-time.
During summer, there may be other environmental stressors for baby’s skin. There are a few easy steps you can take to help prevent distress and sleepless nights. Here are my top tips for protecting your baby’s sensitive skin during a heatwave:
As your baby’s sweat glands are still developing, they can be prone to overheating. Lukewarm baths during the summer can help keep them cool and clean. Avoid too hot and too cold water and keep the bath short (5-10 minutes). A soap-free baby wash such as the AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Hair & Body Wash is best for newborn skin and gentle enough for everyday use.
Baby skin is unable to retain moisture in the same way adult skin can. To keep your baby’s skin hydrated, immediately apply a moisturiser after bathing, when the skin is still damp. Using a slightly lighter emollient in the summer, such as the AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Baby Moisturising Lotion as part of your baby’s daily skincare routine can help keep summer skin happy without occluding it.
Avoid heading out when the sun is at its hottest, but when you do go out make sure that your baby is covered up, using breathable layers. Natural materials such as cotton will help your baby to keep cool but also help to protect them from the sun. Please remember babies under 2 years of age should not be exposed to direct sun for longer periods, whether with or without sun screen.
What are the benefits of moisturising baby’s skin?
Baby moisturisers like AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Baby Moisturising Lotion can help soothe the skin, increase skin hydration levels and help support the skin’s natural barrier function. Daily application of emollients can help reduce the frequency of flare-ups of dry, itchy skin.
How different is newborn skin to adults?
Baby skin is about one third of the thickness of adult skin, meaning the skin is more delicate and the barrier of a still developing child’s skin is much easier to damage. This means the skin can lose moisture easier and become prone to dryness and irritation.
How does newborn skin differ to a baby 6 months old and even 1 year old?
Baby skin is still developing for at least the first year of life. As your little one gets older, your baby’s skin may need more protection from environmental elements and changes. Especially when they start to explore the world. You may need to wash and dry their skin more frequently; this can potentially lead to dryness and irritation. Using a soap free cleanser such as a creamy cleanser from the AVEENO® Baby range can help prevent this.
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