Massaging your little bundle of joy is an essential but overlooked part of infantcare, the act of massaging your infant brings an endless amount of benefits to both you and your little one. Infant massage is one of the most beautiful and nurturing gifts you can give to your little one, it’s a great way to bond with your precious little one as they feel your loving touch. Infant massage techniques are simple, it doesn’t take any special skills to carry out the act on your little one. Here at BrilliantTots, we advocate infant massage and, we’ve curated a list of benefits along with the how-tos on massaging your little one.
- Massaging your baby too soon after a feeding might cause your baby to vomit, so wait at least 45 minutes after a feeding.
- Also, pay close attention to your baby’s mood – If your baby has a steady gaze and appears calm and content, they may enjoy a massage. If your baby turns their head away from you or becomes stiff in your arms, it might not be the best time for a massage.
- When massaging your little one, begin with a light touch and stray away from applying too much pressure when you’re working your hands on their body.
Greater bonding between caregiver and infant
The skin on skin contact is great for bonding as well as tactile stimulation. The bonding is especially great for adopted babies, for dads to massage babies who are nursed by mom, and babies who have spent time in the newborn intensive care unit.
Relaxes the baby and the caregiver
Massage releases endorphins in the baby and the caregiver, helping to relax those involved in the act while also regulating your little one’s sleep and wake cycles.
Massages stimulate blood flow, it is great for immunity and keeping the baby healthy. This is especially beneficial during flu season.
Better coordination and motor development as baby grows
Infant massage is usually done from head to toe, which traces the development of the baby’s neurological system. Studies have shown improved motor development as a result of regular massages to babies.
Better digestion and gas relief
Several strokes are specifically targeted to a baby’s abdominal area. These strokes help stimulate digestion, moving the bowels whilst helping with gas relief. Expelling gas and bowel movement is not necessarily painful for babies, but it is a new sensation that they do not experience in the womb so, through infant massage, parents can help their little one go through the unfamiliar situation a lot faster than usual which deems to be very beneficial for infants.
Improved touch processing
The stroking on a baby’s skin helps to stimulate the tactile system. Because the skin is our largest organ, it has a large representation in our brain. Stimulating your baby’s skin is stimulating a large part of their brain, causing connections to occur between brain cells and helping your baby process the sense of touch.
Improved body awareness
When babies are born, they have no sense of body awareness. They are not aware of their hands and feet, or where their body starts and stops. This concept of body awareness is learned over the first few years. Infant massage helps bring that awareness to light. The stimulation to your baby’s body helps them learn the parameters of their body. It is extra helpful if you say words such as “this is your leg” while massaging your baby’s leg. The baby will start to associate the language with the body part that is feeling the sensation. A great time to carry out infant massage on your little one is after bath time. It can be part of a daily routine! Your little one will come to expect their massage and become calm before you even start. It is a wonderful way to end the day and wind down for the night.
Infant massage helps relieve digestive pain by moving the gas and bowels, expelling the unwanted gas and easing the pains your little one may be feeling. While you’re massaging your little one’s entire body, go ahead and massage your precious one’s gums as well to ease teething pains. You don’t really need anything other than your own hand to massage away your baby’s teething pain. Just run your finger against the gums to provide counter-pressure on the emerging teeth.
The How-Tos On Infant Massage
A cosy atmosphere is essential
Massage your baby in a warm, quiet place. Make sure bot you and your baby are in a comfortable spot. Place your little one on a towel on their back so they can maintain eye contact with you. This can be on their changing table or your bed. Give them a little head’s up that it’s massage time as you undress them, this will bring awareness when its time for the relaxing deed.
Place your baby on their back and begin by slowly rubbing each body part. Your touch should be gentle at first. Spend some time rubbing each of their body parts, starting with their head and moving gradually down to their feet. There’s no specific recommended time for the massage. Each part of the massage should last as long as you and your baby are enjoying it. You can also try placing your baby on their belly for a short massage, though some babies may not like being on their tummies for long.
Repeat it all over again
If you and your baby are enjoying the massage, continue by repeating the rubbing motions, starting again from their head and moving down toward their feet.
Always communicate with your baby during the massage. Repeat their name and the word “relax” to help them calm down. You can also tell a story or sing their favourite nursery rhyme as you move around their body.
Oil or cream is optional
Some parents find oil or creams too messy, while other parents use it to help eliminate skin friction from massaging. If you do use oil, make sure to buy one that’s odourless and edible since your baby may get it in their mouth. First, test the oil by applying a small dab to a patch of your baby’s skin. Check to see if your baby reacts unfavourably to it, this is especially important for babies with allergies or sensitive skin.