Baby massage is a wonderful way to communicate with your baby before they are able to understand language.
It allows you to nurture your baby, encourages bonding, and can help to relieve various bodily pains.
In this ultimate guide to baby massage, we will cover:
Read on for all of the information you could ever need about baby massage!
It goes without saying that baby massage is a wonderful way to shower your infant with love and nurture. But what are the other, less obvious, benefits of baby massage?
Spending time massaging your baby is a great way to promote bonding – especially for dads! When mom is breastfeeding, it can be easy for dads to feel a little lost in what their role is – massage offers a great solution.
A massage, for anyone, is a great way to wind down after a busy day. And though baby’s lives might not be so busy, they’re sure to have had a lot of visits (or FaceTime calls!). A gentle massage at the end of the day will help your baby to relax and wind down, ready for a night of sleep.
Through eye contact and physical touch, baby’s feel a sense of safety and comfort. This makes massage a helpful tool if your baby is agitated or irritable. Though don’t persevere with the massage if they continue to be upset!
Through the physical touch that comes with massage, you can positively affect your baby’s stress hormones to leave them feeling more relaxed.
If your baby has trouble digesting or is suffering from gas, a gentle massage on the belly may relieve their discomfort. (Keep reading for more information on how to safely massage the belly!)
Believe it or not, giving your baby a foot massage can help to relieve teething pain! There are pressure points on the feet which, when massaged or pressed, are thought to soothe pain in the gums. Find out more about reflexology for baby’s here.
There are no specific guidelines for the best time to start baby massage, but it’s generally advised that you wait for a few weeks after birth to perform a full-body massage.
Soothing touch, however, can be started immediately after birth. Whether this is gently patting your baby’s back or softly stroking their arms and legs. A caring touch leads to bonding, secure attachment, and comfort.
When you do eventually start to massage your baby, be sure to follow their mood. If they’re feeling particularly cranky or irritable it’s best to leave it until they are feeling more alert and content. It’s also worth noting that it’s important to wait until 45 minutes after your baby has fed to give them a massage, otherwise it could cause them to vomit.
Luckily, all you really need is your hands!
A little baby or coconut oil can, however, make the process a bit more comfortable for both you and baby. Warm a little oil in your hands before applying to your baby’s skin. And be sure to do a patch test before covering their body in a product that they could be allergic to.
You might also want to have a warm blanket or towel that you can use to cover a part of your baby’s body whilst you’re massaging a different area (for example, you might like to cover their entire body apart from the leg that you’re massaging). This is to ensure that your baby stays comfortable and doesn’t get too cold!
Allocating space for baby massage in your routine is one of the best ways to stick to the practice and allow your baby to get used to it.
The best time to massage your baby is during their bedtime routine. Using massage before bed is also a wonderful way to show your baby that it’s time to start winding down.
You might like to massage your baby after their bath and before the bedtime feed. During this time you could consider listening to some soothing music, dimming the lights, and singing to your baby!
Here are some things to consider when massaging your baby.
A chilly room is one of the fastest ways to make for one very unhappy baby. You might like to heat a smaller room – such as the bathroom – so that your baby stays warm. If heating the room is inconvenient, you can keep your baby semi-dressed or covered with a blanket instead.
The first few times that you try massaging your baby you might find that your little one seems a bit apprehensive. Maintaining eye contact with your baby and talking to them will reassure them that they are safe and let them know that it’s an experience to be enjoyed!
Start every massage slowly so that your baby can begin to understand what’s going on and respond to let you know whether they’re happy. Begin with gentle touch, starting at the baby’s head and slowly moving all the way down to their feet. If your baby is enjoying it, follow our step-by-step guide to baby massage (below).
Communicate with your baby throughout the massage to keep them relaxed. You might like to repeat their name, sing their favorite song, or tell them a story. Make sure that there are no distractions during this time and that your focus is completely on your baby.
Using oil can reduce friction and make the experience more comfortable, it’s also an easy way to hydrate dry skin.
When using any kind of oil or baby product during the massage, be sure to do a patch test 24 hours before!
This might seem obvious, but it’s also easily forgotten! You can bet that your baby is going to be uncomfortable and a little grouchy if they’re laying on their back looking at an overhead light. Try instead to use a couple of dim lamps or nightlights, it’s better for your baby’s eyes and will also help to create a cozy, sleepy atmosphere.
A step-by-step guide for massaging your baby from head to foot.
If your baby really enjoyed their massage and looks like they would like it to continue, you can repeat it as many times as you like! Either spend extra time on their favorite spots or go through each step of the massage again from start to finish.
Wrap your baby up in some warm pajamas and get ready for a night (or 30 minutes…) of sleep!
Start slow, don’t push it if your baby is not happy, and enjoy the special time that you get to spend bonding with your baby!
When your baby is ready, why not consider moving onto baby yoga.
Read the article Everything You Need To Know About Baby Yoga
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