The loving touch of a baby massage lessens stress both in your baby and yourself. Your baby’s digestion is improved, helping relieve gas and colic symptoms. Other benefits can be sounder and longer sleep patterns, neurological development and weight gain. Baby massaget may even help to boost the immune system. Your baby develops body and mind awareness and coordination as well as feeling loved, respected and secure.
Preparation is important when giving your baby a massage. Choose a time of day when your baby is wide awake and not too close to a feed. Find somewhere comfortable and warm for you baby to lie naked on a blanket or folded towel either in front of you or between your legs. This will take 10 to 15 minutes so put on a soothing CD first. Have the massage oil close at hand and rub a small amount between your hands to start with.
Use long and slow steady strokes while ensuring you keep at least one hand on your baby. Start with gentle pressure using the thumb, the first 2 fingers or the palm of your hand beginning with the chest, moving up to wards the chin and spreading across to the sides of the rib cage. Keep eye contact and talk to your baby when you massage as your voice will be soothing too. With one hand, stroke the tummy in a U shape, moving down one side, across the bottom of the stomach and up the other side. Carry on to the head and face using your fingertips. Lightly rub the scalp in circles (avoiding the fontanel) then up the nose, across the forehead and down the cheeks. For the arms and legs, wrap both hands one above the other around the arm or leg and move your hands with gentle squeezing from top to bottom. Massage the hands and the feet with your thumbs and stroke each finger and toe. Finally, turn your baby on to his tummy and stroke downwards on either side of the spine from the shoulders to the base of the spine, over the buttocks and down each leg. It is important to stress that every movement you make when massaging your baby must be very gentle.
Never continue with the massage if your baby is fretting and don’t massage the tummy if your baby is younger than 4 weeks. The spine should not be touched. The massage is something you do with, rather than to, your baby so it should be enjoyable for both of you. Massaging your baby can even alleviate the effects of postnatal depression by helping you to have a more positive interaction with your baby.
Many parents these days have very busy lifestyles and some new mothers even have to return to work soon after giving birth. The quality time afforded by giving your baby a massage reaps benefits for both of you so try to make time each day for this very beneficial experience.