Baby massage is an age old tradition to soothe and calm your baby to sleep. It is also one of the ways to strengthen your baby’s bones and boost growth.
It is also very effective in weight gain, digestion, and improving blood circulation. Massaging also makes your child feel to the parent.
Baby massage can help soothe and calm down the baby, as you know, but also the parents. The gentle and rhythmic massage strokes can help release ‘happy hormones’ in your body and also your husband’s body if he watching you two.
To ensure that the baby benefits all these positive points, massaging should be done in the right way. This is because doing it the wrong way can affect adversely. There is a correct technique to follow that you need to learn.
What is massaging?
Baby massage involves gentle and soothing strokes on your child’s body with your hands. You may use creams, moisturizes, and oils for massaging as it helps you make smoother strokes.
We would recommend you to use natural and pure massage oils for its multiple benefits.
Some people only massage the baby’s legs and hands, but you can even massage his/her tummy, chest, back, and head. Make sure to massage at least 45 minutes after feeding to avoid reflux.
Also, humming to your child during the massage can help him/her feel calm and relaxed. The happy hormones that you and your child release during the massage can help in developing the feeling of warmth and love.
When to massage your baby?
Most parents set a specific time for baby massage. Though that is correct you can even give your baby a short 5 minutes massage during every diaper change.
This helps motivate a healthy digestive system, relieve colic symptoms, and encourage a restful day forward.
You can start your baby’s massage at any month. You can start massaging your baby just on the day he/she is born by giving a rub in the vernix.
Make sure you are super gentle and careful while massaging a newborn because their skin is too sensitive. We do not recommend any oils, creams, or moisturizes during the initial days of massage.
Time of the day
Though you can massage anytime, the time of the day you pick to massage can play a huge difference. We recommend you to try different timings to see how well your baby responds to it.
The best times to massage your child are:
- At least 45 minutes after feeding
- When the baby is alert, awake and calm
- Right before the bed because massaging helps induce sleep
- After every diaper change ( quick massage)
How to massage a baby?
Massaging your little one needs to be done very carefully and gently. You need to give it time to perfect the strokes and let your child enjoy the benefits.
We are here to help you! Learn the techniques we have mentioned below:
Legs are the right body part to start the massage because they are less sensitive when compared to other parts of their body.
Use a little massage oil, wrap your hand around the thigh and pull one hand down and then the other. Squeeze the leg simultaneously, just like you are milking the leg.
Follow the same for the next leg.
Hold one foot and rotate it a few times in both the directions, left and right, and then stroke the top from the ankle to the toes.
Follow the same for the other foot.
With your thumbs, trace in a circular motion all over the bottom of both the feet.
The last part of the feet is to take each toe between your thumb and first finger and carefully (and gently) pull it until your fingers slip.
Follow this for all ten tow fingers.
Hold one of the arms and repeat the milking action that you did for the leg from the armpit to his/her wrist.
Hold her hand carefully and gently rotate the wrist in each direction a few times. Repeat the same for the other arm.
Gently press your thumb on the hands. Repeat the same for both hands.
Just like the toes, take a finger between the thumb and first finger and pull it gently until your fingers slip through.
Repeat the same for both thumbs and all the fingers.
Put down your hands on his/her heart in the prayer position. Open your hand slowly and lightly, giving a stroke outward until the palms are open.
Repeat this stroke a few times.
Place down one of your hands flat on his/her chest and stroke it down gently to his/her thigh. Repeat this stroke with alternating hands.
After the massage on the tummy, fold your child’s knees up to the belly and apply tender pressure. Be in this position for approx. 20 to 30 seconds and you might also repeat it a couple of times.
Massage the tummy from under the naval in a downward direction. This will helps release gas.
Roll your child to the tummy position. Use your fingertips to gently make tiny circles on both sides of his/her spring from the neck to the hips.
Use your thumbs to move from the bottom of his/her to the shoulders, tracing circular movements on both sides.
Take some long-form gently from his/her shoulders to the feet.
A few babies do not like it when they are given head massage. If your baby is the same, keep the below-mentioned things in mind:
Your child’s fontanelle will be delicate and soft until he/she is almost 18 months. Thus, make sure to not apply any pressure during the head massage.
All you need to do is pat the massage oil gently and allow the oil to soak in. if you want, you can spread the oil on the head and calm your baby down.
Conclude with a bath or sleep
Usually, babies get a massage right before their bath. Thus, you could massage in the morning and finish off with a warm bath.
A massage before sleep will help them to be calm and ready for bedtime. After you are done with the massage, put the nappy, cuddle, and feed him/her. he/she will mostly doze off while feeding.
Do you need a massage oil?
There is no compulsion in using massage oil. But using the oil will make your experience comfortable, smooth, and enjoyable.
As per this study, the massage oil you use affects the growth and health of your little one. Researchers have found that when parents used coconut oil instead of mineral oil to massage, babies gained more weight.
This study indicates that using olive or sunflower oil can break down the child’s skin barrier and can increase the risk of developing eczema.
Benefits of baby massage
Babies love their parent’s touch and it is the best way to communicate with them.
You might have noticed that a cranky or crying baby can calm down when you hug or cuddle him/her.
Massaging is nothing but an extension of touch and has multiple benefits to it like:
Great for baby’s health
Massaging your baby helps improve blood circulation as well as the gastrointestinal processes. Massaging also helps in physiological benefits like improved breathing.
Calms and relaxes your baby
Massaging helps calm the nervous system and induces sleep. It also helps in relieving colic. Baby massage helps in relaxing their muscles and strengthens them.
Parent and baby bond
Massaging your baby is the best way to bond with your newborn. It also helps you know the needs of your baby.
The parent becomes more confident
If it is your first, you may have no experience in handling your little delicate one. It is the best way to understand your baby and also handle him/her.
Spending with your child helps you understand the cues about his/her needs.
Massaging your little ones belly eases stomach related issues like constipation, gas, and colic.
As per this study, premature newborns who received a massage (touch therapy) gained almost 47 percent more weight than the ones who did not receive any massage.
In this study, those who received a touch therapy (massage) gained more weight every day, improved motor skills, and became more aware. Another study showed that it increases bone density as well.
Lowers chances of jaundice
A study states that newborn massage can help lower bilirubin levels, the compound that causes jaundice. It also improves the frequency of bowel movement that helps eliminate more bilirubin from the body.
Studies have shown that baby massages promote alertness in the baby and thus he/she learns more.
In this study, the four-month-olds were given massages daily and they responded in a better way to the audiovisual habituation than the ones who did not receive the massage.
Improves some conditions
As you know, massage therapies can be used to cure multiple conditions in adults, and in the same way, it can be used to treat infants as well.
For example, children diagnosed with autism performed better in the tests after receiving a massage. The same was observed with children with ADHD. other issues that were improved are as follow:
Tips to consider for safe baby massage
Massaging your little one can be tricky, especially if this is your first time. Just using a oil and techniques do not work beneficially. Thus, we have listed down the tips that will help you give a gentle and safe massage to your sunshine.
Set the mood
We request you to set the mood for the baby massage and do not do it in a hurry. Dim the light, turn on soft music, switch off your mobile, and keep the room warm.
Keep the child on a safe surface
Choose a flat and comfortable surface. This can be a floor, or bed or his/her diaper changing table. Make sure not to leave him/her unattended even for a millisecond.
Undress your baby
You can even remove the diaper if you want. A little air will be beneficial for the baby, especially if he/she has a diaper/heat rash.
Make sure to keep a towel below the baby if he/she is diaper free.
You want your child to be in a peaceful, relaxing, and calm mood. For newborns, use gentle strokes and for toddlers a little firm strokes.
Make sure the massage stroke is smoothening for his/her skin and it is not just rubbing.
Bond with your little one
Baby massage is the best time to bond with your child. Sing a lullaby and play with him/her. Look in his/her eyes to improve your connection.
Know when to stop
Understand the cues on when to stop the massage. When your child starts becoming cranky or fusses, stop the massage. Some reasons why baby starts to fuss is:
- he/she is too hungry
- he/she is feeling too cold
- he/she is bored
We hope to have helped you guide through baby massaging by providing information on the most common questions.
If you are in double minds if you should practice massaging your child, we have mentioned a list of benefits that will make you go for it.
In case you would prefer dry massaging, we recommend you use an oil like coconut oil or almond oil to make the process more comfortable and enjoyable.
We have mentioned the step by step guide that will help you master the massage strokes and make your child happy.