Baby massage is ancient practice has been used around the globe to aid comfort, promote health, assist recovery, and to soothe and stimulate babies. There are many countries where children are massaged daily until they are a few years old.
The benefits of massage for babies are well documented; it nurtures security, strengthens the parental bond, and facilitates a baby’s sense of self-awareness.
There are many physical benefits also, including:
- Promoting calmness and better sleep day and night
- Improving blood circulation
- Enhancing the skin’s condition, and muscle tone
- Balancing respiration, and helping clear the lungs
- Helping digestion (can help with abdominal pain, colic, constipation and wind)
- Bonding (relationship between baby and parents)
In particular, baby massage can alleviate the symptoms of colic, wind and constipation. This – and the promotion of deeper, better quality sleep – is considered to be one of the most immediate effects of baby massage on your baby.
Baby massage is also effective and beneficial for premature babies, and those with special needs.
How to massage
When massaging a baby, you will be using very gentle touches and soft strokes. It is most effective if the baby is naked or just in a nappy. A warm and quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
With regular practice you will become more confident and your baby will learn to trust your touch and you will learn to instinctively tell if something is wrong, helping to soothe out any tensions in his body.
An organic / pure oil is best: Choose from sweet almond, sunflower, or grape seed. You can add essential oil if you choose, but make sure to do a skin test by applying a little and leaving it for 30 minutes before checking for an adverse reaction.
Camomile: has calming properties, aids digestion, and promotes sleep.
Frankincense: This is good for relaxing and helps with breathing.
Lavender: clears nostrils and airways, good if your baby has a slight cold and good following immunisation.
Rose: Helpful for Dry Skin.
Make sure the room is warm. It is nice to have some relaxing music playing softly. Removing jewellery and watches so as not to scratch baby. Check for any torn nails. Breathe calmly and talk to your baby in a gentle voice. Take your time and enjoy this special moment with your child.
Massage – The Power of Touch
Since ancient times massage has been used across the globe to aid wellbeing, promote health, assist recovery, and to soothe and stimulate babies. There are many countries where children are massaged daily until they are a few years old.
Every touch on skin initiates a mental response. You can clearly see how internal feelings and health affect the skin. When you are suffering from lack of sleep you get dark circles around your eyes, stress may cause your skin to break out, and flushing of the skin can indicate your mood. Likewise, touches on the skin can also affect your mood.
Relaxation: The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by massage and endorphins are released. This balances the body by reducing the metabolic rate, anxiety and blood pressure, improving your circulation and aiding sleep.
Growth and Development: During massage muscular coordination is encouraged and growth hormones that flow from the pituitary glands increase. Stimulating the tactile nerve endings in the skin provides information to the brain about the outside world.
Immune System: Massage assists the flow of the lymphatic system, this transports immune cells through the body and helps to eliminate waste.
Digestion: Abdominal massage can aid the elimination of processes in the large and small intestines. Babies are particularly responsive to massage of the abdomen and lower back.
Points to remember:
- Always keep your hands well oiled
- Repeat each stroke several times
- Never force your baby’s limbs into positions
- Stop if your baby cries, sometimes resting your hand on your baby is enough to give him the reassurance he needs to continue. Sometimes it is best to stop altogether.
- Always keep your baby warm. If it is very cold, it may be best to massage through clothing and without oil.
- Relax and enjoy this one on one time
Do not massage:
- If your baby has a raised temperature or is unwell in any way
- If your baby has any cuts or skin disorders such as eczema
- At all for 48 hours following immunisation
- Around the injection site for a week following the immunisation
- If your baby has had surgery
Sometimes you don’t need to give a full massage, you may be busy and not have enough time in the evening. Before the wind down in the evening just do your baby’s favourite bits or a simple massage through their clothes. Enjoy this while your baby is young as when they start to crawl they are less likely to stay still.