Baby massage is such a lovely way to bond with your baby and has so many benefits. After spending nine months in the womb, they crave being touched! Read on to learn how you can use baby massage to relax your little one.
Benefits of baby massage
Baby massage has numerous benefits, the obvious one being that it helps to strengthen the bond between parent and child, and promotes relaxation. Here are a few more:
- Helps your baby to sleep well
- Helps your little one to gain weight and thrive
- Improves digestion
- Improves blood circulation
- Strengthens the immune system
- Eases pain from teething, colic, etc.
- Improves brain/body communication
When to massage your baby
The best time to massage your baby is when your baby is in a calm, relaxed mood. A good time is usually after a bath, before bed, or after a nap. It’s so easy to adapt baby massage into your regular bathtime/bedtime routine daily or a few times a week.
When not to massage your baby
- Directly after a meal
- Your baby is unwell or has a temperature
- They have had a vaccination in the last 48 hours
- Your baby is tired or hungry
- If they have issues such as brittle bones, hip dysplasia or joint issues – ask a doctor for guidance
How to massage your baby
If you have never done this before, you can do a course in baby massage, or talk to your pediatrician or health nurse on how to do this. If you know a local massage therapist, they are sure to be happy to show you or offer advice.
Babies are fragile little beings, so a very light touch is all that’s required. Think of massaging a ball of wool, and you’ll have an idea how much pressure to use. A baby massage should only take about 15 minutes at most so it’s easy to incorporate into your routine.
When massaging, lay your little one on a towel in a warm room so they are not chilly. Apply the oil/lotion by pouring into your hand first to warm it. Pouring oil directly onto your baby’s skin could be a shock to them if it is cold. Use gentle strokes and sing or chat to your baby as you massage them, maintain eye contact and watch them for cues. If your baby isn’t enjoying it, it’s best to stop and try again another time. Once you are finished, wrap them up snugly in a blanket or towel and give them some snuggles.
- Start with the legs, stroking gently from the thigh, down to the ankle. Gently circle your thumbs over the soles of the feet.
- Moving to the arms, stroke from each shoulder down to the wrist, and gently circle your thumbs over the palms of their hands.
- Stroke your little one’s chest in a circular motion, moving from the sternum, out to the shoulders in increasing circles.
- Massage your baby’s tummy in a circular motion, always clockwise.
- Use gentle circular motions to massage your baby’s cheeks, forehead and head, being careful to avoid the fontanelles or ‘soft spots’ on your baby’s head.
- Turn your little one over and stroke gently down their backs from shoulders to bottom.
Oils for baby massage
Always choose non-toxic, hypoallergenic oils as it’s quite likely that your baby will put their hands in their mouth at some point. Olive oil is ideal, along with grapeseed, sunflower or safflower oil. Avoid nut oils in case of allergic reaction and never use essential oils on a baby’s delicate skin, even if diluted in a carrier oil. If you are using an oil for the first time, test it by dabbing a tiny drop on your baby’s skin and leaving it for half an hour. If there is no reaction, it’s safe to use.
Massage is a wonderful way for parent and child to bond and can be a relaxing, fulfilling experience for both of you to enjoy the to the full!
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