A baby massage is called Shishu Abhyanga in Sanskrit. The time of the day suited for babies/children to be massaged is in the morning, ensuring the baby is on an empty stomach, and preferably when it's not too cold.
It is also imperative to use the right Ayurvedic baby massage oil for the purpose and avoid the oil from any contact with the baby’s eyes. The oil should be safe and made with gentle natural ingredients.
The process of massaging a little baby is a time for investing in the building a sacred bond between mother and child, or even father and child. It should be done gently and pray-fully.
The oil must be warmed slightly before being applied and care must be taken not to apply pressure while massaging. It is also good to go through some stretches for the baby post and prior to the massage to ensure circulation and relaxation.
When it comes to the bath after the massage, one needs to ensure that only lukewarm water is used. Do check the water temp, but touching with the inside of your arm, and not just your palm. Baby's skin is sensitive and delicate to heat.
Once the massage and bath are done, care must be taken to keep the baby warm and wrapped sufficiently. Also it's a great time to chant and sing to your baby, cuddle up and take a nap.
Note: The Abhyanga must not be done if the baby is suffering from a cold, cough, or any digestive discomfort. Avoid oil massage, per say, on the abdominal region. Some nabhi tailam may be applied in that case.
Benefits of Shishu Abhyanga
One must wonder what is thus, other than building a connect with the young one, of massaging a baby.
Similar to the benefits for an adult, regularly massaging your little one helps in building stronger bones, proper blood circulation, building strength as well in a good night's sleep.
It reduces irritability in children and also helps to relax their muscles.
Some frequently asked questions about Shishu Abhyanga:
Can I use oils for massage in the summers?
Yes, absolutely. This is a completely natural body massage oil for babies, that can be used by adults as well. In winters or in cold climates, it is recommended to warm it slightly before use. In summers, you can use it directly from the bottle. Massage gently on the body, till oil is well absorbed. You may wash or wipe it off after 30 minutes.
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