I first heard about baby massage when one of the Mum’s in my daughter’s playgroup was discussing it at one of our monthly catch ups. I started some research because I was really intrigued to know what it was all about.
Baby massage is is an absolutely fantastic way to bond with your baby. It is lovely tranquil time that you can spend together doing something relaxing. It can also be a physical way to display your love for your baby to them.
What is Baby Massage?
Baby massage is the gentle rhymthic stroking of baby’s skin and moving of their limbs. You can work your way all over baby’s body to calm and relax them. It also has the double effect of calming and relaxing you as you share in the experience with baby. You can use a suitable baby oil if you wish to, or simply your hands.
Why Should You Consider Doing it?
Massaging baby will release the hormone Oxytocin which is the lovely nurturing happiness you feel when you are holding baby close in a cuddle. That’s why it can be a fantastic bonding experience. You are both calm and happy and have a direct positive interaction. Make sure you have lots of eye contact and you can even sing or hum while you massage.
Research has shown that there are medical benefits to Baby Massage…
- Increased weight gain in premature babies
- Stimulate nerve endings and body connections
- Regulating an irregular heart beat
- Aiding digestion of food
- Improving poor circulation
There are also some behavioral benefits…
- Aid Development Physically and Mentally
- Help baby to stay relaxed throughout the day
- Help baby to cry and fuss less
- Help baby to sleep better
When Should You Do It?
If it is the first time that you are attempting to massage baby then you should choose a time when you are both calm. Not after a stressful day or when baby is hungry or sleepy. It may take a little time to find your rhythm together so best not to put pressure on yourselves by starting at the wrong time.
You should also start with baby’s legs first as they are one of the less sensitive parts of the body. They are used to having their legs touched when their nappies are changed also. You can massage one leg at a time or both at once, just make sure you give even attention to both.
You should use a nice calm, warm space free from distraction to massage baby. If the temperature allows, then they will love being naked for the experience! Try to follow the same pattern each time to massage, perhaps legs first then arms, then working down the rest of the body. Baby will find the routine (like any other) comforting and will know what to expect next. Make sure you listen to baby and any cues they might make as you are massaging, if they begin to cry then it is time to stop and try again another time.
When you have it down pat you can make Baby Massage part of your regular routine. It’s lovely to do right after bath time or before going to bed at nighttime. Just pick the time that fits into your routine the best!
Not Just For Mums!
Massage is not just for Mums! It can be a fantastic opportunity for Dad to bond with baby too. Sometimes Dad can miss out on the more intimate moments of parenting if he is at work a lot of the day, if baby is exclusively breastfed or if Mum is the primary at-home caregiver. The skin to skin contact that they will both share through massage will help increase their bond. That’s why it is lovely to make massage a nightly activity to continue to grow that bond regularly.
Have you tried massage with your baby? Tell us about it in the comments below or over on our Facebook page. Better yet, post us a picture of you massaging baby on Instagram with the hashtag #babyviewpics
Gemma is a kiwi Mum of one and is the Editor for The Baby View. She also works with preschool children, loves cooking, loves sunshine, loves chocolate and loses countless hours at a time looking at cute baby pictures on Instagram!