Whether you’re soothing your baby for sleep or trying to ease an unsettled belly, a gentle massage can work wonders for your little one. These soft, rhythmic movements are not only a great way to bond, but they are also among the most affectionate and most powerful forms of communication between you and your child. If you’re preparing to introduce massage to your baby, here’s what to know before you begin!
When should I massage my baby?
Generally, you can introduce massage a few weeks after birth, when your little one’s skin barrier has developed. However, it’s important to follow your baby’s mood; they should be alert and awake, but also calm and quiet. Try and choose a time between feeds, where they won’t be too hungry or too full. If your baby is quietly alert and invested in their environment, it’s likely a suitable time to bond and interact through massage.
What are the benefits of massage for your baby?
Baby massage boasts plenty of benefits for your little one. Beyond the invaluable bonding experience, massage can also help to stimulate the circulatory and digestive systems, which in turn may help some babies with gas, constipation and other tummy troubles. These gentle, rhythmic movements can also help to alleviate muscular tension, growing pains and teething discomfort.
Remember that if your baby has any underlying health conditions, it’s best to speak to your doctor about massage first.
Tips for massaging your baby:
If you’re introducing massage into your little one’s routine, here are a few tips to consider before you get started:
Create a cosy environment. The room should be warm and quiet. Place your baby on their back on a towel or soft blanket to help them feel secure and comfortable. You should also ensure that your hands are warm, so give them a good rub before you begin.
Start slowly. Place your little one on their back and slowly rub each body part with gentle movements. Then, as they become used to your touch, use firm, smooth continuous strokes with your palm or flats of your fingers and avoid applying too much pressure.
Keep talking. Massage is a great time to connect with your little one, so use this time to speak to them or sing softly, keeping your voice low and soothing so not to overstimulate them.
Oil and moisturiser are optional. Some parents find oil to be too messy, while others use it to help eliminate skin friction during massage. If you do use oil or moisturiser, ensure that the ingredients are safe for your baby’s sensitive skin. Do a small test on their skin first and check for a reaction. Also, be sure to place the product on your hands before massaging, rather than directly onto your baby.
Form a routine. If possible, consider incorporating massage at the same time every day, so that your baby comes to expect and enjoy it. However, be sure to choose a time where you can both relax and there is no rush. For instance, avoid squeezing in a session while dinner’s cooking and go for a time where you know you can focus purely on your little one.
Follow your baby’s cues. Most importantly, observe your baby’s reaction when you’re massaging them. Every baby is unique, so there is no one technique that works for all. Take note of their mood and how they respond to different movements. Remember if they’re fussy and not feeling up to it, don’t force it. Massage should be relaxing, so follow your baby’s cues to help make this a soothing bonding experience for both of you.