Massaging your baby is a delightful way of not only soothing your baby, but showing love and care. Many parents have discovered the effects of massaging babies for themselves, why not you?
What is baby massage?
Similar to massage that we seek for relaxation and rehabilitation, baby massage is gentle, rhythmic stroking of the baby’s body with your hands. You can use some light, sensitive oils or a moisturiser so that your hands glide better across the skin. The touch needs to be much lighter than one you would use on an older child or adult, and all areas from the wrists to ankles, the torso and back can be gently stroked. At the same time, talking or humming to your baby in a soft voice, also adds an extra dimension to the bonding session too.
Just like grown-ups, the soothing power of touch releases ‘good’ hormones in the baby; called oxytocin, this hormone makes us feel warm and loved, and is the same hormone that is produced when a baby is bottle or breast fed.
The benefits of baby massage
There are many reasons why spending a few moments each day, massaging your baby can be a good thing…
- Some babies suffer a traumatic birth and, like the mother (and dad too!), will take time to ‘heal’ from the experience. Massage is one way of encouraging the bond between mother and baby - and dad too! Learning to appreciate touch, beginning to trust and love the people around you and feel safe is important for a baby.
- Some mothers can suffer from post-natal depression, which can present a conundrum of emotional and bonding issues between mother and baby. Massage presents the mother is one way of beginning to strength this bond. It can be done at a time the mother feels able, as well as at times when the baby seems fractious.
- Some babies cry, whilst others seem silent. A crying baby that cannot be soothed can make some parents feel like they are failing, making the early days of parenting very hard. Baby massage is a great way of bringing comfort to a baby, soothing it so that the crying can hopefully, dissipate and lessen.
- Sleep for some new born babies can also be traumatic and fractious time too, more so for some babies, the process of falling to sleep. Baby massage can be one way of aiding the transition from ‘nearly asleep’ to falling into a restful slumber.
- It can also be a great way for dads to learn how to bond and interact with their new born child. Much of the focus when the baby is born is, quite rightly, on the mother but some fathers can feel a little left out, especially on the baby bonding side. For many, the first time they seriously start to get to know their child is when they are left in sole charge, presenting an interesting concoction of fear and pride!
- Massage has been proven to be incredibly beneficial with premature babies too, aiding weight gain and general relaxation.
When is the right time for baby massage?
The birth of a child will see parents receive all kinds of ‘instructions’, advice and a list of ‘must-dos and must-not-do’, as well as ‘avoid at all cost’ lists, thus many parents assume that there is an optimum time for massage.
And to a certain extent, this is correct but the optimum time changes from one baby to another. It is best to avoid just before a nap (unless sleep is a major issue), and not before or immediately after a feed.
You are looking for a time in which the baby seems settled and contented, as well as alert especially if your main aim is to promote interaction between you and your little one. A great time for massage can be after a bath, when the baby is warm and relaxed, but before the last feed of the day before settling to bed.
Remember, however, that the optimum time will chance as the baby grows; new-borns will sleep more as they are constantly growing but, after a few months, will have longer spells of wakefulness and alertness. There may be times too, when the baby is unwell and this can disrupt sleep and eating patterns.
The soothing touch of massage is such that it is a great way for a baby who has had a full and stimulating day to unwind and relax, a bit like how we try to spend our evenings.
What else do you need to know about baby massage?
How you give the massage is important and thus, here are a few hints and tips…
- Babies need to feel ‘safe’ and in their very early weeks, this means that they can seem ‘folded’ or ‘scrunched up’. They will only begin to unfurl, as it were, as they relax and learn to move limbs. Don’t force a new-born baby to ‘unfold’ itself or you may find you have a distressed, unappreciative baby!
- The room needs to be warm in which you intend to massage your baby and, unlike an adult massage, a soft bed or couch on which the child can lie
- Soft music can also help, as can soft, ambient lighting
- Take your time and remember, the length of the massage does need to be long; 10 minutes of quality eye-to-eye, skin-to-skin contact is far better than 30 minutes of ‘battle’
Learn to enjoy your baby even more by soothing them with your power of your touch. This article was written by Onsiteplus.com for more information on this topic. Visit our website.
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