You've Got the Touch

More than just a feel-good exercise, massage helps babies sleep better and cry less.

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No self-respecting new mom would pass up a massage ... and neither should her baby! More than just a feel-good exercise, massage helps babies sleep better and cry less, according to a recent review of 23 studies. Here's how to rub your baby the right way, according to licensed massage therapist Elaine Stillerman, author of MotherMassage (Delta):

  • Plan to caress your baby for five to 10 minutes after his bath. Keep the room warm and the lights low. Speak softly.
  • Place your diapered baby on his back with your legs or rolled towels surrounding him for safety. Apply baby lotion to your hands--we like Noodle & Boo Super Soft Lotion ($14; noodle andboo.com)--and start with a gentle "hello" stroke, lightly sliding your hands down his face, chest, hips, legs and feet.
  • If your baby coos and smiles, he's enjoying your touch. If he pulls away, try applying more pressure--some babies dislike a light touch--but don't force it. (If he continues to squirm or cries, stop and try again the following day.)
  • Next lean back on pillows and place your baby on top of you, stomach to stomach. Glide your hands, crossing each other, from neck to buttocks and back up. Finish by stroking his feet.
  • If your baby tends to fall asleep during a massage or gets fussy being dressed afterward, dress him first and forgo lotion.
  • Tell a story, sing a lullaby or talk to your baby during his massage to deepen the bonding experience.

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