When I left the hospital with my newborn, the paediatrician advised me on all things medical like basic medication and vaccination and also told me how to feed, clean and bathe the baby. Dr. Bhupendra Avasthi, Surya Hospital, said that the baby can have a bath with a few cups of water till the belly button area heals and the umbilical cord stub falls off.  He asked me to take care of baby’s gentle skin and make sure that the baby is completely dry. After a week or 10 days he said I could use a mild soap and lukewarm water for the baby’s bath.

What about a baby massage?

I was told by friends and relatives that babies need a massage and did not know what to do because newborns look so delicate and it seems counter-intuitive to give them a firm massage. I realised that I was right! While many Indian households employ maalishwalis and aayas to massage the baby, Dr Avasthi strongly recommended against it by asking me a couple of simple questions, “Do you know the living conditions of most of these maids who give a maalish? How hygienic do you think it is to let them put your newborn on their legs while they press, tug and squeeze the infant?”

Many doctors and post natal experts say that massaging your baby is not a good idea. They recommend a body massage as a fun way to relax and bond with baby through touch.

Are baby oils good for the pre-bath massage?

If you intend to give your baby a gentle massage for a few minutes before bath time, then Dr. Avasthi says that it is best to use plant-based oils like coconut oil and olive oil. I did avoid petroleum jelly and liquid paraffin based oils and used olive oil. Any cold pressed olive oil helps by letting your hands glide smoothly over the baby’s skin while you gently massage the baby in slow, circular motions. Here’s a step by step guide to massage your baby.

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