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Is it advisable to massage a newborn baby?

Q: Three weeks back I delivered a baby girl by a Caesarean section. Her birth weight was low at 2.38kg but she is doing fine. She is completely on breast feeding and is gaining weight now. My question is regarding massaging of the baby. Before I ask our maid to start massaging her, I wanted to clear some doubts: 1. What is the purpose of massage and what is the right way of massaging? When should we start this? Our maid massaged my first child vigorously saying that is how it should be done. 2. Does massaging enable falling of the body-hair or it can happen without a massage or scrubbing? Will they fall on their own? 3. Is pressing around the nose needed to to shape it or is it a myth? 4. How should the head be massaged? 5. Till what age should the baby be massaged? 6. Which oil should be used. When we apply the branded (J & J) baby oil before giving a bath to the baby, slight rashes appear on the face and body and also some tiny boils. If we do not apply the oil, this does not happen. Should we change the brand? Somebody asked us to use olive oil? Does that help?

A:1. Massage is more useful for development of bonding between the mother and the baby, however there is some evidence that oil used in massage may help the baby especially the low birth weight baby. The massage should be avoided during first few weeks after birth, as the babies are more prone to turn cold during this period as during massage you tend to keep the baby exposed. One should refrain from doing vigorous massage as it can be harmful. Give only gentle message yourself rather than a maid giving it. 2. Most of the hair present at the time of birth would fall on their own, for this purpose doing massage is not recommended. 3. You should not try to press the nose to give it a shape as extra force applied can damage the cartilage and bones of the nose and disfigure the nose. 4. Gentle oil application can be done on head also, rather than giving heavy massage as it can be harmful. 5. There is no time frame for the massage. You can do it as long as you and your baby enjoy this. 6. You may use any oil, vegetable oils are preferred. If rashes appear after application of any particular oil, avoid using it. You may try olive oil.

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