Baby Massage Best Practices
Many new parents often hear that giving your baby a massage is beneficial for your young ones but are hesitant to try it at home for fear of doing something wrong. It is a great way to soothe a relax your baby. Health professionals recommend skin-to-skin contact between parent and infant to promote attachment but now there is also increasing evidence that gentle massage helps both parents to become more sensitive, responsive and attached to their newborn.
Not unlike an adult massage, infant massage stimulates the baby’s circulatory system and benefits his/her heart rate, breathing and digestion. Research has shown that baby’s that receive regular massage gain more weight and went to sleep quicker than those that do not. This is a great activity for the father to connect to their new child or for mother’s to further their connection.
There are a few guidelines to make the process more comfortable for yourself and your baby.
- Remove all jewellery
- Get a good quality natural baby oil – olive, coconut or grapeseed oil are great starting places
- Ensure you baby and yourself are relaxed and receptive and plan to spend about 15 minutes of uninterrupted minutes with your baby
- Ensure the room is a warm temperature as well as your hands and have your baby naked
- Use light touch using your fingertips and palms increasing the pressure as baby and yourself become more comfortable
- Always massage inwards towards the heart – rubbing towards the body ensure you are not pulling any limbs or injuring the baby, you want the blood flow to go one way towards the heart which makes baby more comfortable
- On the face – massage the temples, walk your fingers across the forehead, with your thumbs massage the cheeks
- Chest – with both hands at the center of the chest – push out to the sides following the rib cage and without lifting your hands bring them around in a heart-shaped motion to center again
- Arms – lift each arm and stroke the armpit a few times, gently squeeze and turn baby’s arm from shoulder to hand
- On the stomach – ensure you massage in a clockwise motion which will help the baby’s digestive system and allow the baby to sleep better – this is great for those baby’s that haven’t gone to the bathroom in a couple of days or have gas
- Legs – roll the legs between your hands from knee to ankle, knead each leg, squeezing gently
- Back – move your hands back and forth in opposite directions going down the back to the bottom and then up to the shoulders and back down again
Lastly, remember there is no right or wrong way to massage your child as long as you are gentle and patient with them. If you need further guidance or new idea’s, book in with one of our practitioners to learn more techniques.