Incorporating touch (massage) into everyday baby care Touching your baby is one of the most enjoyable and beneficial things you can do, as well as one of the most natural. Theres no reason why massage should be confined to a half-hour session during the day. Research shows that touching your baby, in addition to routine daily care helps to improve growth, language and social skills. You can incorporate massage into most facets of your baby's daily routine. if your baby has a special need, she will especially benefit from regular massage. Here are some suggestions: - After bathing your baby. This is the ideal time to massage your baby, since shes already undressed. if you bath your baby in the early evening, massage can also help to relax her and improve her sleep. You can either massage your baby after the bath, or while you're soaping her body. - Nappy changing. This is a great time to massage your baby, especially when she grows a bit older and its hard to get her to stay still long enough for a full massage. Massage her with or without oil. Stroke her tummy, legs and feet. - Sleep time. Massaging your baby as shes falling asleep will help her to relax and feel safe and secure. You can have a specific routine with which you get her to sleep. Use light strokes, and keep the massage short and simple. For example, you can rub your baby's tummy if she's lying on her back [and vice versa] or stroke her head and face if you are holding her. Combine this with singing softly to your baby. One great technique guaranteed to relax your baby is to slowly and lightly stroke her feet from just above the ankles down- wards toward the toes, using both hands - almost touching. Repeat this a few times on each foot. - Playtime. This works very well when babies grow older and don't want to lie down long enough for a full massage. By touching your baby lovingly and playing with her, you are showing her that you are interested in her, which gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with her. This aids in her development, as well as giving her self-confidence and a positive body image. Try to incorporate touch in games focusing on the different areas of the body, so that over a period of a week or so, you massage all areas. ln this way you could play farmyard‘ on your little ones legs and arms and 'milk the cow’, for example, or you could be a fairy 'walking' around your childs abdomen and chest; 'ride bicycle’ with your little ones legs. But first check the pedals‘ (massage the feet with your fingertips], count your baby's fingers with your thumbs, moving from the palm of the hand all the way to the tip of each finger and adapt back-touch sessions by rolling a small spiky massage ball up and down, and around the various areas. Use your imagination and you will develop your own techniques, taking your babys preferences into account.