When my daughter was born, my mum was already trying to find someone for baby massage, we call them maalishwali in India. This woman is sort of a masseuse who has experience in massaging not just the baby massage but also the mother, who is recuperating from labor or C-section. For the mother this experience can be really awesome, but I am not so sure for the baby.
I belong to a traditional Maharashtrian household, so maalishwali maushi is much like a mandate for any woman post-partum. My sister had one for herself and my nephew, but I was not so keen on it. After my delivery, I was insistent of having no massage lady for my daughter or myself. It was difficult to convince my parents, but there are reasons that I feel my daughter did not need her.
Let us see how the process of massaging a baby by a masseuse takes place. I found this video on YouTube that shows how a massage happens. This might not be the case everywhere, some might be gentler, but overall you will get the gist.
So, I don’t think babies need such rigorous massages to strengthen their muscles. What I believe is that if you incorporate baby exercises that focus on various joints and muscles in the baby’s body starting from the fourth month, all the benefits that you expect from this massage can be derived.
Here are some top baby exercises I started for my daughter from the fourth month to encourage future milestones.
- Tying a ribbon and dangling toys from it – Lay your baby in the crib and tie little clothespin, a soft toy, or ribbons to it. Encourage your baby to catch these toys.
- Soft blocks and balls – These are difficult to find in India, but I think mom&me and Mothercare stock them. These balls will help your baby strengthen their grips. You can always give rattles that encourage grips too, I was just worried baby might bonk it in her eye.
- Reverse pushups – Lay your baby on a bolster such that baby’s stomach touches the sheet and hands are over the bolster. Place a toy in front of the baby and encourage the baby to grab the toy. Tummy time is very essential to build back muscles and shoulders.
- Cycling – Lay your baby flat on her back and hold her feet. Do a cycling motion such that her knees just graze the stomach. This will strengthen her thigh muscles and stomach. This exercise also helps with relieving gas.
Try these exercises instead if the maalishwali maushi freaks you out too. But, if you are comfortable with the routine that the maushi follows, please go ahead with it. I would recommend asking your doctor as well if this routine is mandatory and will not harm your baby.
Did you skip this routine with your little one or were you the one who enjoyed the massages? Share your experience and let me know how you managed.