29 October 2016


Are massages good for newborn babies?Is it really helpful?Or we do it on hearsay?
As soon as a baby is born in the house of an Indian, parents start searching for a dai or a midwife who can bathe the baby and at the same time give the baby a good body massage.

We do not know whether a massage helps to strengthen the bones of the baby. But does it really serve this purpose? Let's check it out...

Says Dr Indira Hinduja, a well-known gynecologist, "Actually giving massages with the help of a midwife to a newborn baby is like a tradition which has been continued down the ages.

But I don't see any health benefits in the practice at all. Actually they do it because it will strengthen the baby's bones but I don't think it serves that purpose. Also there's no scientific meaning to it. Parents normally hire dais or midwives to do the job who mostly don't do it the proper way as they are not trained in it. They perhaps may have learnt it from their mothers or grandmothers," she adds. "Also the most dangerous part of the massage is that they put oil in the nose of the baby and in the ears which is very harmful," she warns.

In fact even Dr Nandita Palshetkar, also a gynecologist, echoes similar views, "The baby's skin is so delicate and through the massage spread any infection to the other parts of the body. I personally don't think it's a good idea to have a dai at home to give a massage," she says, adding, "if at all the parents are interested in giving a massage to the baby then they should do it only after the baby is three months old. Initially they should avoid it."

She also advises against putting oil in the ears of the baby as it can cause fungal infections in the ear. "Putting kajjal in the eyes is also not advisable because it has carbon. I see this practice followed only in India, nowhere else in the world do they follow such practices," she explains.

Dr B K Shah, a senior practitioner feels that this issue is still controversial as there's not much research done on the subject. But he does feel that, "its not very helpful to the baby. The massage is supposed to help the baby in the development of bones. But a child any ways does all the normal exercises and movements when he/she grows up," he reasons.

"Putting oil in the ears or even in the navel is not hygienic at all," he affirms. "In fact a mother should bother more about the food that is given to a newborn baby as it is the food that will help in the development of bones rather than the massage. Even exposing the baby to early morning sunlight is very helpful as the sun's rays carry Vitamin D which is highly beneficial for the development of bones."

A mother herself should massage the baby, say the doctors. She should apply oil gently on the dry skin of the baby rather than use a midwife for the purpose who does it with forced rough movements which can harm the skin and bones of a baby if not done in a professional way. "The touch, love and affection of a mother when she gives a soothing massage to the baby helps them both to bond well and even plays an important role in the growth of the baby," says Dr Hinduja. The doctors also suggested that a mother can take a body massage soon after delivery. Says Dr Hinduja, "A massage tones up the muscles of the mother which had all undergone a change during the nine months of pregnancy. But I still feel that exercise is a better option."
The skin of a new born child is in perfect shape and condition, needs no extra care for 3 to 4 months and much more in colder climates.In hot climate oil will block the sweat pores and the child will feel uncomfortable.Even giving bath daily is not required except cleaning the private parts.
Choice is yours. These are all out dated practice without any scientific backing.

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