Baby massage has many benefits and is a great way for you and your partner to bond with your baby in a relaxed atmosphere. Many mums and dads use the technique as part of their bedtime routine as it relaxes and soothes the baby to help him/her sleep.
Baby massage benefits
The technique has also been said to have the following benefits:
- Keeps the baby more relaxed
- Cry and fuss less
- Increases bond with baby
- Eases signs of colic, constipation or trapped wind
- May improve weight gain (in premature babies)
- Aids in the recovery of jaundice
Along with the various benefits to the baby above there are also many for the mother:
- Oxytocin released during the massage can help ease postnatal depression
- Increases bond with the baby (for you and your partner)
- The oxytocin released can also help with breastfeeding as you are more relaxed
How to perform a baby massage
1. Choosing the right time
You want your baby to be alert and fed so that they’re not distracted by other feelings throughout the session. Just after the bath in the evening is a perfect time and helps with getting him/her relaxed and ready for sleep.
2. Create a relaxing atmosphere
The space needs to be comfortable and relaxing, make sure there’s no lights shining in either of your eyes, sit on a bed or the floor with your baby safely on a towel opposite you so you can get lots of eye contact. You want to ensure the room is warm enough for him/her when you take their clothes off, you can leave the nappy on if you’d prefer but loosen it off a bit when you massage the tummy area.
3. Choose a massage oil
Choose a massage oil that is going to be kind on your little ones skin. Babies skin is more sensitive than adults so make sure you use one that’s specifically for babies, for example the Earth Friendly Baby Shea Butter Massage Oil.
4. Getting started
Warm a little bit of massage oil in your hands by rubbing your palms together, then very gently rub your hands onto your baby’s skin, starting with the legs. By lightly squeezing and softly twisting your hands over the skin work your way up the legs towards the upper thighs.
Next cradle one of the baby’s feet in your hands and rub the sole of the foot with your thumbs, one at a time. Next keep hold of the foot in one hand and support the calf with the other, and gently bend the leg in towards his/her chest, and repeat 2 or 3 times, you can also do this with both of the legs together.
Babies are less likely to have colic like symptoms if they are breastfed, but if your baby does have colic, constipation or trapped wind gently massaging their tummy may ease the symptoms. To do this, carefully place your hands on the centre of your little ones tummy and spread your hands in a clockwise direction (following the direction of your baby’s intestines), this movement should encourage the trapped wind to move.
Your local children’s centre will more than likely offer baby massage classes, ask your health visitor for a list of dates and times.
Note: Baby massage should not be performed in children under 6 weeks old.