Massages aren’t just for adults anymore — just like you, your baby might enjoy a relaxing massage. Baby/infant massage consists of specific techniques and patterns for touching your baby, not too differently from adult massages.
Research suggests many benefits of baby massage. Massages can lower your baby’s levels of stress hormones like cortisol, reducing fussiness, helping him/her relax and sleep more soundly.
Baby massage can benefit parents as well. Touching your baby releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, improving your mood and your connection to your baby. It’s also beneficial as a simple bonding activity for parents and babies to get to know each other. Many new parents might wonder what activities to do with their newborns, and baby massage is a good answer. This can be especially true for dads — since they don’t have the same physical attachment to Baby formed through pregnancy and breastfeeding, many dads find that baby massage is a good way to bond with their new baby.
Before you start, here are some helpful tips to consider:
- Start Baby’s massage when your baby is awake and happy. Massaging a hungry or tired baby can only frustrate her.
- Remove jewelry, so you don’t scratch your baby.
- Find a position baby is comfortable and alert in.
- Use lotion or baby oil so your hands move easily over your baby’s skin.
- Pay close attention to your baby’s reaction, to see what she likes and dislikes.
- Hold your baby’s ankle with one hand. With the other, slide your hand down from Baby’s thigh to the ankle.
- Roll Baby’s leg gently between your hands.
- Gently squeeze and roll around each toe between your fingers.
- Rub the top of Baby’s foot from the toes to the ankle.
Tummy (Note: Only if umbilical cord has healed)
- Move hands in a clockwise motion around your baby’s stomach.
- Trace circles outward from Baby’s belly button.
- Place Baby’s feet together and lift them toward her face to relieve gas.
- Slide your hands down from Baby’s shoulders to his wrists.
- Stroke down the top of Baby’s hands toward his fingers.
- Massage Baby’s palm with your thumbs.
- Holding the baby’s head in both hands, gently massage her scalp.
- Rub Baby’s ears between your fingers.
- Stroke outward from between Baby’s eyebrows to her forehead.
- Turn Baby onto his tummy.
- Move your hands in opposite directions from Baby’s head to his butt.
- Gently stroke up and down Baby’s spine.
- Massage his shoulders using small circular movements.
By using these techniques, the strengthened bond between you and your child can last a lifetime.
By Stella Masucci