Baby massage is a longstanding parenting tradition that has been in practice for more than thousands of years. It is followed in various cultures, including Asian, African, Russian, and since 1990, has gained massive popularity in the U.K. too. Many studies have shown that infant massage offers several benefits.
Massaging your baby is a great way to express affection and care. The added benefits of massaging a baby are improving digestion, aiding circulation and enhancing weight gain. Here is a simple guide to comprehending the basics of massaging a baby and getting started.
How to Massage a Baby?
Infant massage is a lovely way to bond and have a fun time with your baby. Natural baby oils or moisturizers can be used for massaging babies. Begin with a gentle, stroking touch and glide your fingers smoothly over the baby’s skin. Then, massage the baby’s wrists, ankles, and fingers. The soothing strokes of parental hands can boost the production of oxytocin hormone (the ‘feel-good’ hormone) in the baby. During the massage routine, sing or hum to make it more soothing for the baby.
Potential Benefits of Baby Massage
A regular baby massage offers numerous benefits. In general, massaging a newborn largely helps the baby to stay calm, relaxed, cry less and sleep better. In addition, it also boosts the immune system and promotes physical and mental strength. Massaging stimulates the release of hormones, like oxytocin, prolactin, and other endorphins that elevate the mood. Baby massage evidently assists to alleviate your mood swings and improves parenting skills
that make you feel empowered as a parent. Always ensure that you plan massaging time ahead.
Infant massage benefits the baby as it:
- Improves the duration of sleep and leads to increased levels of relaxation.
- Improves muscle tone and lowers muscle stiffness.
- Regulates the sleep/wake cycle of the baby.
- Enhances the production of hormones.
- Supports digestion and aids in toning the digestive tract.
- Through released endorphins, it helps remove emotional stress.
- Promotes infant-parent attachment.
The power of touch is emphasized in Kangaroo care of newborns as well. Kangaroo care is holding a baby in an upright position along with skin to skin contact. Various studies have revealed that kangaroo care can immensely help premature babies
by improving the oxygen level in blood, regulating the body temperature and enhancing weight gain.
Infant Massage - Parental Benefits
Infant massage is one of the most gratifying experiences guaranteeing pleasure and amusing moments for both, the parent and the baby. Traditionally, babies who are massaged on a regular basis are more likely to have a special bonding with parents. Consequently, it leads to better relationships with others too. Massage is a great method of relaxation for babies and parents, as well.
Some of the parental benefits of a baby massage routine are:
- Staying closer to the baby.
- A time for both parent and baby to relax together.
- An opportunity for dads to spend quality time with their babies.
- Helps assess baby’s body and behavior.
- Boosts confidence and parenting skills to care for the baby.
Baby Massage - Standard Procedure
Initially, you may start by massaging the baby's legs. Do this until the baby gets used to it. Then gradually get going with a massaging routine; simply move on to baby's legs, arms, hands, and body. After a period of time, it gradually helps in reading the baby’s cues. There are many massage mediums like natural baby oils and creams for massaging babies. Choose the best oil considering the baby’s delicate skin type. Almond oil
is widely used for massaging babies due to its various benefits. Almond oil is rich in Vitamins A, D and E and helps moisturize the baby’s skin. Coconut oil a natural moisturizer can also be used for massaging babies.
Check out the step-by-step guide to starting the massaging routine:
- Take a small drop of almond oil or moisturizing cream.
- Rub it on your palms.
- Gently massage the baby's skin, starting with the legs.
- Affectionately squeeze the baby calves and thighs.
- Then, place both the hands on the baby’s center and get going with the chest and tummy.
- Use fingers to stroke in an outward direction, in small circles.
- Just continue the skin-to-skin contact process until the infant sleeps.
This step-by-step guide, if followed as a routine, serves the best to help in soothing, stretching, strengthening the immune system, and digestion of the baby.
Select the right time and space to offer the baby. For instance, choose a time when the baby is between feeds as at that time, the baby would not be too full or too hungry. Do not massage just before the baby’s nap. A good time to start massaging is when the baby is awake, alert and all set to respond. Some may even wish to schedule the massage time before bedtime and after a bath. Usually, massage before bedtime allows your baby to calm down and prepare for sleep. Watch the baby’s signal and wait until the baby is interested in its own surroundings, and then commence the massage routine. Normally, parents are advised to look for positive responses before a massage, with certain specific actions or words that the baby can recognize positively.
Typical Requisites for a Massage Routine
Choose a quiet and comfortable room for the massage. Be sure that the baby lies down on a neat towel or a folded sheet, with a changing mat beneath. Be certain to turn off the mobile phone and check whether there are any other distractions. You may play some soft music and hum it along so that the baby enjoys it thoroughly.
Have a quick check for the following:
- Set the mood of the room with the exact lighting.
- Natural baby oil or a moisturizing cream.
- Towels, mats, and sheets.
- Set of dress, clean nappies.
Ideally, a daily massage would be enough but there are no specific rules; a baby massage can even be done more than once a day. Nevertheless, giving the newborn a daily massage is an excellent tactic to boost the baby’s immune system.