Gentle massage has so many wonderful emotional and physical benefits for both you and your baby. From improved sleep to strengthening your bond, and from relaxation to colic relief. Just think about how you feel when you get a massage! You don’t need to be an expert, though – baby massage is as simple as it is enjoyable.
Not only will you discover the benefits here, but also some tips to get you started.
What are the benefits of baby massage?
According to Infant Massage Australia, the many benefits include:
- Relaxation: It helps both you and your baby relax by stimulating the brain to produce serotonin, the feel good hormone. What that means is that your baby’s heart rate and breathing slows down.
- Better sleep: It encourages your baby to sleep longer and deeper thanks to the relaxation effect, and the reduction of the stress hormone cortisol in their body.
- Improves colic and constipation: A soothing belly rub can help to relieve pent up gas that’s making them uncomfortable and irritable.
- Helps to promote bonding: Your loving touch is a powerful form of communication that helps both you and your baby develop secure attachment, trust, confidence, and closeness.
- Provides opportunities for quality time with your baby: This is a great time for fathers (or siblings, or other close family members) to have some quiet time of enjoyment and affection with your baby.
- System stimulation: Baby massage is also known to stimulate the circulatory and digestive systems, coordination and balance, increase flexibility and muscle development.
When should I give my baby a massage?
You can’t always plan it, but a great time is when you find an opportunity that your baby is quiet and you feel calm. There’s no point in attempting it if you feel stressed, or your baby is hungry or fussy. You might like to try after a nappy change or as part of the bedtime ritual. After a warm bath (together is even better!), put on some relaxing music, dim the lights, and massage them whilst quietly chatting about their day. It’s the perfect wind-down routine to let your baby know that it’s bedtime.
Allow 5-15 minutes, and ensure that the room is warm and quiet. If they become irritable, stop straight away – they might be so relaxed that they’re ready for sleep, and you don’t want an overtired bub!
How do I massage my baby?
You can either attend classes, or easily find good video tutorials online.
- Remove any jewellery, and roll up your sleeves.
- Grab the massage oil (a natural, plant-based oil is best, but please consult your maternal and child health nurse first).
- Lay your baby down on his back on the change table or on a towel on the floor or bed.
- Strip your baby down to her nappy.
- Ask your baby if it’s okay to massage them. This might sound silly, but it’s always a good idea to communicate what you’re about to do to a baby. They understand so much more than we give them credit!
- Warm a little oil in your hands, and whilst maintaining eye contact with your baby, place your hands gently on their body. Give them a calm reassuring smile.
- You can either just rub oil or baby moisturiser all over using long gentle strokes, or you can start with your baby’s tummy and work your way to their arms and legs, and turn them on their tummies for a gentle back rub.