When it comes to massaging your baby, the magic touch lies in your hands!
A baby massage is the gentle stroking of your baby’s body with the use of massage oils, balms, or lotions specifically made for your baby’s delicate skin. From strengthening your baby’s muscles to easing common wail-inducers, to helping your baby get a better night’s sleep (which means more shut-eye for you), baby massage is a great sensory activity that encourages your baby’s social, physical and emotional development. Here’s everything you need to know about massaging your baby.
Benefits of Baby Massage
We all know that cuddling, stroking, and holding your baby plays an important part in helping your baby feel safe, secure, and loved. The touch between you and your baby also brings you emotionally close – a process known as “bonding” or “attachment”. But did you know that touch in the form of daily baby massages also offers other powerful benefits?
“When you give your baby a massage, you’re actually stimulating her central nervous system,” explains Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. “That sets off a chain reaction: It makes her brain produce more serotonin, a feel-good chemical, and less cortisol, a hormone that’s secreted in response to stress. As a result, your baby’s heart rate and breathing slow down, and s/he becomes more relaxed.”
Regularly massaging your baby can help:
- Soothe baby and reduce crying
- Aid digestion and help relieve gas and constipation
- Ease baby colic
- Ease muscular tension, growing pains, and teething discomfort
- Stimulate growth in premature infants
- Help baby sleep more deeply and longer
- Help calm and relax both parent and baby
- Boost parents’ confidence in handling baby
How to Massage Your Baby
Giving a massage to a baby, especially a tiny newborn, can be intimidating for some parents but it’s easier than you think. Just follow a few simple baby massage steps:
- Choose the right time: Try to pick a time when your baby is between feeds. Then she won’t be too hungry or too full. While you can massage your baby at any time of the day, a massage before bedtime will help your baby to wind down after the stimulation of the day and become calm, ready for sleep.
- Warm the room: Baby’s don’t like the cold, so make sure the room is warm (around 24 degrees C) with no draughts.
- Place baby on a flat surface: Choose a comfortable, but flat surface (bed, or changing table). Lay your baby down on a towel or folded sheet, perhaps with a changing mat underneath.
- Undress baby: You may prefer to keep your baby’s vest on if it is a little cool. Or let her enjoy being completely naked for a change. You can ditch the nappy if you want but be sure to slide a towel or two under baby if they are nappy-free.
- Gentle touch: Research has shown that the best effects of baby massage are achieved with moderate pressure. If touch is feather-light, it may irritate your baby. Using the right part of your hand is just as crucial. Flat, soft palms and fingers feel a lot more comfortable than pointed fingertips. It’s also best not to massage the chest first because this area is easily over-stimulated.
Which products should you use to massage your baby?
Your baby’s skin is sensitive so it’s important to only use products that are 100 percent safe, natural, and free of petroleum, mineral oil, zinc oxide, phthalates, parabens, and other nasties. Our baby balms and baby oils have specially selected moisturising oils and calming herbs to nurture and protect your baby’s soft skin.
Baby massage techniques to try
- Massage between the eyebrows in a circular motion using your index finger from the side or above.
- Using both index fingers, massage your baby’s temples with gentle circular strokes.
- Slide your index and middle fingers down your baby’s cheekbone and up to the back of her ear, gently rubbing up and down behind it.
- With your index finger, massage the point midway on the imaginary line between your baby’s nipples.
- Glide your finger down to the point just below your baby’s navel and massage with your fingertip in a clockwise direction.
- Gently glide your hand down to your baby’s foot. Grasp the big toe, pull upwards, and wiggle slowly with circular movements.