Tag Archives: Newborn

How to massage your baby’s legs, tummy, chest, arms, head and back

A complete guide for massaging every part of your baby’s body. If You want to massage your baby but don’t really know where to start then fear not; baby massage is made easy with these simple steps:

Create a calm, relaxing environment

  • Choose a time when your baby is content and alert, not tired or hungry.
  • Try sitting on the floor, bed or sofa, with your baby safely on a towel in front of you.
  • Find a position that’s comfortable, gives you good eye contact with no overhead lights and where your baby is warm.
  • It’s up to you whether your baby is nappy-free, but it can help to at least loosen the nappy when massaging the tummy.
  • There are lots of lovely baby massage oils on the market but any plain, vegetable based oil, such as sunflower oil, is perfectly adequate.
  • Your baby may end up ingesting some oil, so you really want to make sure it is safe (petroleum-based oils or oils containing nuts aren’t recommended).
  • You may like to introduce a massage after bath and before bed as part of a bedtime wind-down.
  • Getting started

    Before beginning, ‘ask permission’ by rubbing a little oil between your hands over your baby, and saying ‘can I give you a massage?’ This may sound a little crazy but your baby will become familiar with this visual and audible cue and know that massage is about to start.

    It’s great to massage the whole of your baby’s body using a range of techniques:

    Legs and feet

    1. Carefully hold one of your baby’s legs between the palm of your hands, then gently but securely hold your baby’s ankle and support the weight of the leg.
    2. With your other hand, mould it around the top of your baby’s thigh and then slide it down towards the ankle. The action is similar to milking a cow!
    3. Once you have massaged one leg, swap and massage the next. Soft, flowing strokes are best and it is important to always keep the ankle supported.
    4. The next step is to massage your little ones foot. Support your baby’s foot in two hands and with your thumbs, stroke over the sole of her feet from the bottom of her heels to her toes.
    5. Repeat over and over alternating your thumbs.
    6. The top of the foot can be massaged by gently squeezing her toes between your thumb and forefinger and giving them a little wiggle and applying gentle pressure with the pads of your fingers all around her foot.
    7. Finish by rubbing her feet softly and then repeating the leg massage in the opposite direction. (This time from ankle to thigh).

    Tummy

    1. Remove or loosen his nappy.
    2. Place your handly softly on the base of his rib cage at a 45 degree angle (so your little finger is in contact with him), slowly brush your hand downwards towards the bottom if his tummy as if your hand were an awe on a rowing boat. Hold your hand so your pinky’s edge can move like a paddle across your baby’s belly. Repeat these strokes using both hands in a continuous wheel like movement.
    3. With your finger tips, massage her tummy in circular clockwise movements.
    4. Trace “I Love U” with your fingers: Write the letter ‘I’ down your baby’s left side. Then trace an inverted ‘L’, stroking across the belly along the base of her ribs from her right side to her left and down. Trace an inverted ‘U’, stroking from low on the baby’s right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.
    5. Walk your fingers around his navel in a clockwise direction.
    6. Hold knees and feet together and gently press knees up toward her abdomen.
    7. Rotate baby’s hips around a few times to the right. (This often helps expel gas.)
    8. Place your hand on his tummy horizontally and rock your hand from side to side a few times. Note: Avoid massaging tummy if the cord hasn’t completely healed.

    Head and Face

    1. Cradle your baby’s head in both of your hands, massage her scalp with your fingertips, as if you’re shampooing. (Avoid the fontanel, the soft spot on top of baby’s head.)
    2. Massage her ears between your thumb and index finger.
    3. Trace a heart shape on her face, bringing your hands together at the chin.
    4. Place your thumbs between your baby’s eyebrows, and stroke out.
    5. Again with your thumbs, stroke gently out over baby’s closed eyelids.
    6. Stroke from the bridge of the nose out over the cheeks.
    7. Using your fingertips, massage the jaw in a small circular motion.

    Chest

    1. Place both of your hands on your baby’s chest and gently stroke outwards from her sternum to her shoulders.
    2. Beginning at her sternum, trace a heart shape bringing both hands up to her shoulders, then down and back together.
    3. In a crisscross pattern, stroke diagonally from one side of your baby’s hip, up and over the opposite shoulder, and back down to her hip.

    Arms

    1. With one hand, hold your baby’s wrist. Relax her upper arm by tapping it lightly with 2 fingers.
    2. Hold your baby’s wrist with one hand and shape your other hand in a C-shape around baby’s upper arm; stroke from her shoulder down to her wrist.
    3. As though gently wringing a towel, softly stroke down from her shoulder to her wrist with both hands rotating in opposite directions.
    4. Massage her palm by moving your thumbs over and over from the heel of her hand to her fingers.
    5. Stroke down the top of her hand from her wrist to her fingertips. Gently squeeze and pull each finger.
    6. Massage her wrist by moving your fingers in a small circular motion.
    7. To complete, roll her arm between both of your hands

    Back

    1. Place your baby on her tummy horizontally in front of you, or lay her across your outstretched legs. Keep her hands in front of her, not at her sides.
    2. With both of your hands on her back, move each of your hands back and forth (keep them going in opposite directions) from the base of her neck to her buttocks.
    3. Hold your baby’s buttocks with one hand and use the other to stroke down from her neck to her buttocks.
    4. Using your fingertips, massage small circles down one side of baby’s spine and up the other. Avoid pressing directly on her spine.
    5. Gently massage her shoulders with small circular motions.
    6. Massage her buttocks with big circular motions.
    7. Holding your fingers like a rake, stroke down her back.

    You may not want to massage your baby’s whole body every time but massaging her legs, tummy and if she likes it, her head are perfect for a calming routine before bed time. If at anytime during massage your baby becomes upset or falls asleep, you should stop massaging immediately. I hope you found this guide to baby massage useful. Please leave a comment to key me know how baby massage is working out for you and take some time to check out my other posts. Thanks for reading!

    What you need to know about baby massage

    Baby massage has become increasingly popular in western culture over the past 20 years or so. It originated from ancient Indian traditions and is also widely used in Africa. There are said to be benefits for both baby and parents, here you can get all the information you need before you get started.

    What are the benefits?

  • First and foremost it is a fantastic way of strengthening your bond with your baby.
  • It is also a great way for partners and Grandparents etc to bond with your newborn.
  • It can help to alleviate the effects of post natal depression and improve the mother/baby relationship.
  • It can help you to become more confident in handling your baby and recognising his/her needs.
  • It raises levels of the feel good hormone oxytocin in both of you which results in a calmer, content, much more relaxed mother and baby.
  • It helps to relax your baby’s mind and muscles before bedtime.
  • The oil nourishes your little ones skin.
  • It can relieve the symptoms of colic or constipation.
  • A face massage can help to ease a blocked nose or blocked ducts.
  • A massage of the gums through the skin can help with teething pains.
  • When is the best time of day to do it?

    There is no wrong time to massage your child, however, for maximum benefit you should try and gauge your little ones mood. The best time is when he is awake and content, don’t start massaging if he is tired or hungry and stop it and try again later If he is turning his head away or stiffening his muscles. Massaging your child after a feed may cause him to vomit so try and give him approximately 45 mins to an hour to digest his milk/food. Baby massage is fantastic as part of a bedtime routine for newborns and toddlers.

    Does my baby need to be a minimum age?

    There is no minimum age for starting baby massage, however, if your child was premature you should wait until her due date before you begin massaging her.

    What oil should I use?

    There is absolutely no need for expensive baby massage oils. In fact, a plain vegetable oil such as sunflower oil is all you need.

    References:
    mayoclinic, nct

    Newborn hearing screening

    The newborn hearing screening will be done within the first few days of birth. It has been available to all babies since 2006 and over 6 million babies have been screened since then. It was the National deaf childrens society that pushed for the tests on all children, here is what is involved:

    What is involved?

    There are two simple and basic tests that can quickly highlight if there is any need for any further investigation, these are usually done on the maternity ward by trained hearing screeners but, on some occasions may be offered at home or at a clinic. The two tests are called the Otoacoustic Emissions test (OAE) and the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response test (AABR). These are both painless for baby.

    What is the Otoacoustic Emissions test (OAE) and how does it work?

    The OAE test is the first hearing screening your newborn will be subject to. A small ear piece consisting of a microphone and speaker are placed in baby’s ear and a clicking sound played. If the ear is functioning properly the microphone will pick up the faint echo produced by the cochlea (inner ear). The results are immediate and recorded on a computer for the screener to analyse. On some occasions it is necessary to refer for a second test, this doesn’t necessarily mean your child has a hearing problem, it may have been inconclusive or the test failed for a number of different reasons such as a noisy room or fluid in the ear. If the results of this test are fine there will be no need for further investigation. The second test is the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response test (AABR). approximately 15% of babies are referred for this test.

    What is the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response test (AABR)?

    The AABR test records your baby’s brain activity in response to sounds. This is done by attaching 3 sensors on to your child’s head and playing clicking sounds through headphones. The sensors record if there is a strong response in brain activity as would be expected. The reason a strong response of brain activity is expected is because of the way ears work; sounds travel as vibrations through the outer ear to the cochlea where they are then converted in to an electrical signal. The electrical signal is sent to the brain via the hearing nerve, thus producing an increase in brain activity in response to sounds. If no activity is detected, your baby will be referred for a full diagnostic of hearing. Around 3 out of every 100 children are referred for this.

    A full diagnostic

    if your child hasn’t shown strong responses to the two tests as detailed above, she will be referred for a full diagnostic assessment of her hearing. This will usually take place at your local audiology department.
    The diagnostic assessment will include tympanomenty and Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing. Tympanometry tests how the eardrum and middle ear are working. This test is important because fluid or other problems in the middle ear can affect hearing. During a tympanogram test, a small earphone is placed in the ear canal and air pressure is gently changed. This test is helpful in showing if there is an ear infection or fluid in the ear.

    If at any point you become concerned about your child’s hearing, you should contact your GP immediately. If your child is bring investigated, be sure to attend the appointments, the quicker a diagnosis is made, the quicker remedial actions can be put in place. It your child has hearing problems, it is unlikely you can change that, however, through quick diagnosis you will be able to support your child to live with the hearing loss (however severe) and ensure the impact of this is as minimal as possible (such as speech and language delays).

    Helping your newborn with a cold

    Is your newborn blocked up and suffering with the symptoms of a cold? Here are our 5 best tips for helping to alleviate the symptoms and guidance on when to seek medical advice.

    Why and when is my newborn most susceptible?

    For the first 4-6 weeks of life, your newborn is classed as high risk for colds and other viral infections. This is because your little ones immune system hasn’t yet matured, breastfeeding adds to the immunity protection already received through the placenta and is recommended but unfortunately it does not offer 100% immunity. As well as breastfeeding, ensure you and anyone else in contact with your baby washes their hands and if bottle feeding always follow the guidelines on sterilising and preparing the bottle properly. You may also want to avoid public transport or anywhere where there are large groups of people in a confined space. If despite your best efforts your newborn does get a cold. Here is what you can do:

    First things first: See a doctor

    Even if you are absolutely certain it is ‘just a cold’ you should make an appointment to see your doctor. As a new parent you need that piece of mind and you need to rule out anything more serious (however unlikely). Your doctor will be able to advise you on how best to help your newborn and may also recommend or prescribe some medication.

    Medication

    If you are prescribed medication or you buy something over the counter, always make sure the person giving you dosage instructions is aware of how old your newborn is and what the problem is. You must always follow these instructions carefully. Giving too low a dosage will probably result in the medication not working and giving too much could cause serious harm or even death.

    Plenty of nourishment

    As the saying goes, “Feed a cold”. This is true for adults, children and newborns. Give your child plenty of nourishment, if you are breastfeeding, feed on demand, if you are bottle feeding you may need to feed little and often. Ensure you look after yourself too. The stress, worry and lack of sleep caused by an unwell child can take its toll – have plenty of early nights and wherever possible, sleep when your baby sleeps. Never be tempted to sleep with your baby on the sofa and ensure you continue to follow the advice on SIDS.

    Keep warm

    Just as important as keeping nourished is the importance of keeping warm. There is nothing worse than feeling cold when you have got a cold and this is the case for babies too. Be sure you don’t wrap your baby up too much and always stick to the advice on tog rating and room temperatures.

    Keep clean

    Keep your hands clean, keep the environment clean and do all you can to avoid the spreading of germs. Your baby’s nose and face will need wiping frequently to avoid reinfection and to protect your little ones sensitive skin.

    Monitor the symptoms

    If you feel it is lasting an usually long time for your child to get over the cold, if he isn’t feeding well or if he has a raised temperature always go back to see your GP. As a new parent you will worry more as you don’t know what is ‘normal’ or what to expect. Never take a chance, it us always better to have an opinion of a medical professional.

    Resources:
    webmd, Babymed

    What checks will they do on my newborn?

    Your newborn will be checked soon after birth and again within 72 hours of birth. This is to check for any signs of an underlying health problem. Your little ones heart, hips, eyes and testes (boys) will be examined as part of a top to toe physical examination. Here is what to expect and how:

    Who will carry out the examination?

    The examination is normally carried out by one of the healthcare professionals in the maternity unit such as the midwife, junior doctor or paediatrician.

    When will it be done?

    Your newborn will initially be checked immediately after birth for any obvious physical problems and then when baby is calm and settled, a more thorough examination will take place.

    What is involved?

    The top to toe physical assessment is to check for any obvious signs of any physical problems as well as specific screenings and examinations to identify if there are any underlying conditions that may need to be followed up, monitored or treated. The specific screenings will always check the following:

  • Eyes – An ophthalmoscope (special torch) is used to check your newborns eyes for cataracts and other conditions, these conditions are identified by checking the movements and appearance of the eyes. Approximately 0.03% of babies have problems with their eyes that require treatment.
  • Heart – Your little one will be observed feeding as heart problems can cause poor feeding. Her pulse will be checked and her heart listened to in order to identify any problems. It is estimated around 0.5% of babies have a heart problem that requires follow up/treatment.
  • Hips – Each hip will be thoroughly examined as any problem left untreated could result in a limp or further joint problems. If further investigation is needed, an ultrasound may be arranged. Around 0.2% of babies have hip problems identified that require treatment.
  • Testes – Your little boy will be checked to ensure his testes are in the right place. Most boys testes will have dropped (into the scrotum) by around 12 months of age. If they haven’t dropped by 2 years of age an operation may be required. Approximately 1% of boys have problems identified that require an operation.
  • Ears – Usually carried out separately from the above tests, the newborn hearing screening will be conducted within a few days of birth. This is usually conducted on the maternity ward but in some areas this is offered at home. The test involves placing a small earpiece with a microphone and earphone attached into your child’s ear. A clicking sound is then played and the microphone picks up on whether the cochlea is functioning properly by monitoring the echo within the ear. This test is called the Octoacoustic emissions test. If the results of the OAE test are unsuccessful it could be due to a noisy atmosphere, fluid in the ear from birth or an unsettled baby. A second attempt is usually scheduled if this is the case. If the 2nd attempt is unsuccessful your child will be referred for further tests which involve monitoring the brain activity in response to sounds. This test is called the Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR) test. Around 15% of newborns are referred to have the AABR test and approximately 3% of those children are then referred for a full diagnostic of their hearing at an audiology clinic. 0.2% of babies have some form of hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • What happens next?

    The results of the examination and the reason for any follow up will be explained to you and the details recorded in your maternity notes and in your child’s ‘red book’ (which you will be given soon after birth). The physical examination will be carried out again when your baby is around 8 weeks old.

    0.03% of babies have problems with their eyes, 0.5% of babies have a heart problem, 0.2% of babies have hip problems, 1% of boys have problems identified with their testes and 0.2% of babies have some form of hearing loss in one or both ears. These figures are not high but as a parent you can not help but worry. In some cases these problems will be minor, some can be corrected with surgery/treatment and in some cases it will be something you and your child have to live with. Identifying any sort of physical or underlying problem early helps with identifying and offering you and your child the support you will need (both medical and emotional).

    Resources: Newbornphysical.nhs, ncds