Baby massage has many benefits and is a wonderful way for you to bond with your baby. In fact, studies have shown that massaging your baby can reduce crying and fussiness, help her sleep more peacefully, and alleviate common reasons of baby cries like constipation and colic. Some say that it even boosts a baby’s ability to fight off germs.
Giving your baby a massage is as simple as it is enjoyable. The best time to massage your little one is when he is alert, well-rested, and seems interested in the environment. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes. Before you begin, make sure the room is warm and quiet. Take off any jewelry that could get in the way, and grab some baby oil. Choose a massage oil that is specifically made for babies. Select unscented oils, with natural fragrances and no added perfumes.
Here are important points to keep in mind before you start massaging your baby:
1. Make infant massage part of your daily routine.
Consider massaging your baby around the same time every day so that he comes to expect and enjoy it. What time’s best? There’s no “best” time, really. In general, you want to choose a time when you’re not feeling rushed (so don’t try to squeeze in a squeeze session while dinner’s cooking or you’ve got the washer and dryer going) or when your baby isn’t hungry (since he won’t enjoy the belly rubs if his belly’s empty) or too full (he’ll likely spit up his supper — you won’t make that mistake twice!).
2. If you’re using massage oil, choose one that’s safe for babies.
Sure, you don’t need oil to rub your little one the right way, but it’ll be more pleasant for both of you if your hands glide more easily over your baby’s body. For my little ones I use Oleia Topical oil. It is 100% natural and safe for babies. Oleia is easily absorbed into a baby’s skin — and easily digested when your little one sucks on his hands or fingers. It comes in Chamomile and Lavander. Chamomile has natural soothing effects and is traditionally used to treat insomnia in babies and adults. Chamomile, along with lavender, can relieve symptoms of colic. Chamomile has also been shown to help anxiety and depression, and can uplift a fussy baby’s spirits. While Lavender has many calming and sedative effects. A lavender oil massage can help to relax a fussy baby and encourage sleep. It can also be used on insect bites and to reduce itchiness.
3. Pick an area that’s comfortable for both of you,and warm.
at least 75° F — so your nearly naked newborn doesn’t catch a chill while he’s chilling from your massage. You can massage your little one on your bed (put a towel underneath to avoid oil stains on your comforter). Add some soothing background music or simply use the time to talk and sing to your baby.
4. Follow your baby’s cues
No one likes to be massaged when they’re not in the mood, and that’s true for your baby as well. If he turns away or frowns or cries when you lay your hands on, save the session for later. And remember, you don’t have to give a full-body massage every time. If your baby decides he’s had enough after you’ve rubbed his legs and feet, that’s okay too.
5. Be gentle— and don’t apply too much pressure or it will be overpowering.
Another smart tip from the infant massage playbook: Stroking away from the heart (from shoulder to wrist, for example) is relaxing, and therefore better suited for pre-nap or pre-bedtime massages. Stroking toward the heart (from wrist to shoulder) is more stimulating and better suited for when your baby will be awake and active. You can also do a combo.
Here are some infant massage moves to get you started:
- Head- Start with your hands on both sides of your baby’s head, then run your hands down both sides of his body, from his head to his toes. Next, draw tiny circles on your baby’s head with your fingertips.
- Face- Fold your hands (as if you were praying) on your baby’s forehead, then gently push outward from the center. Next, use your thumb to draw a smile on your baby’s face by stroking from one cheek, across the upper lip to the other cheek. Repeat on the lower lip.
- Chest- Fold your hands on your baby’s chest, then push out to the sides, as if you were smoothing the pages of an open book.
- Tummy- With your fingertips, draw an oval below your baby’s belly button. (Move clockwise, to follow the natural path of digestion.) Next, “walk” your fingertips from one side of your baby’s belly to the other, on the diagonal, as if you were making an “X.”
- Back- Stroke his back side to side and then up and down.
- Legs and feet- Hold your baby’s heel in one hand; with your other hand, start at the top of the thigh and slowly stroke all the way down to the ankle, gently squeezing the leg as you go, as if you were milking a cow. Reverse the motion and go from ankle to thigh. Then rub the feet with your thumbs, gently uncurling and stroking the toes. Switch legs. You can do these same strokes on the arms and hands.
Your baby’s foot is divided into different zones. By applying gentle pressure to certain areas, you will be able to soothe and comfort– providing relief from discomforts while bonding with your baby.
About The Author
Andrea is a full time home maker. When she is not busy taking care of her husband and kids, she goes out giving financial management talks. She is a proud breastfeeding mom for four years running and an avid Oleia Topical Oil user.