Did you know that at birth, your baby’s sense of touch is the most finely tuned of all their senses! That’s why, one of the best ways in which you can truly communicate with and bond with your baby in those early days is by massaging them. Know the feeling of utter relaxation after a good massage? Well, your baby feels the same way too. In fact, experts suggest that it plays a huge part in helping your baby grow and develop.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about massaging your baby – right from the benefits of infant massage to when to begin, different baby massage techniques, tips & tricks.
WHAT ARE THE TOP BENEFITS OF MASSAGING YOUR BABY?
1. It soothes and relaxes them
As a parent, soothing your wailing baby is a huge victory, right? But sometimes, no amount of rocking them or holding them and pacing up and down will work! Next time, try massaging your baby. A massage helps reduce the levels of cortisol, better known as the stress hormone, and relaxes your baby.
2. It can boost your child’s immunity system
Regular massages stimulate your child’s central nervous system and strengthen their ability to fight off germs.
3.It helps baby sleep better
Massaging your baby relaxes their breathing and heart rate, getting them ready for a good night’s sleep.
4. It can help relieve aches and pains
Gassy babies are not happy babies. Massaging your baby around their belly can help reduce constipation and relieve symptoms of colic. It can also relieve stress in babies who are teething.
5. It strengthens the bond between parent and baby
Infant massage is a great way for both parents to truly connect with and bond with their little one. While massaging a baby, you learn to understand and respond to your baby’s cues, thus helping you find a means to communicate with them.
WHEN CAN YOU START MASSAGING A BABY?
You can start gently massaging your baby pretty much right from the beginning, if you like. Start off very gently and slowly and keep a close eye on how your baby responds to it. Your little one might not necessarily like a complete body massage at this point. As baby grows, you can slowly build up to a full body massage. If your baby’s umbilical cord stump hasn’t fallen off yet, make sure you don’t use any oil or other product on or around it. Your newborn’s skin is still extremely sensitive, and many parents wait for 10-15 days before using any products on baby’s skin.
HOW TO MASSAGE A BABY
If you’ve decided to start massaging your baby, here are some helpful infant massage tips and techniques that you can follow.
- Massaging your baby for a few minutes every day is ideal, but if that’s not possible, try doing it a few times every week. If you do make it a part of your daily routine, then try doing it at the same time every day. Pick an hour that suits you and your little one, so that you can enjoy this uninterrupted time together to bond. Make sure baby is calm, alert and not hungry when you start the massage. However, don’t do it directly after feeding time either, as they might bring up their last meal. Typically, the best times to massage your baby are:
- Before a bath, so you can wash off any stickiness (make this a part of your baby’s bedtime routine)
- An hour after feeding baby
- When baby is relaxed and alert
- Right after changing your baby’s diaper
- Before you begin massaging baby, see that the room is at a warm and comfortable temperature. Since you’ll be undressing your baby to massage them, you want to make sure that they are as comfortable as can be.
- Place baby on a safe and comfortable surface for the massage. You can either put them on your bed with a towel underneath or even on your changing table, if that works for you. Just remember – things are about to get a little sticky!
- Let your baby go diaper-free if you’re comfortable with it. If not, make sure the diaper is loose enough for more comfort.
- Rub Baby Massage Oil in the palms of your hands, make eye contact with your baby and start talking to them to get them engaged. Your little ones will enjoy you cooing, singing or talking to them.
- Start by holding their hands gently and lightly rubbing their palms with your fingers. Then, start massaging their body, beginning with the legs and slowly going upwards.
Here’s a few of the many different infant massage techniques you can try:
LEG MASSAGE: Hold your baby’s leg with one hand and with the other hand, wrap your fingers around their leg and gently slide your hand in and up and down motion from thigh to ankle. Repeat it a few times and then turn your attention to the other leg. You can also lightly massage the soles of their feet with your fingers in a downward motion.
BELLY RUB: Gently rub your baby’s tummy area around their naval in a circular motion. If your baby is very gassy, you can also follow this up by slowly bending their knees and bringing them up to their stomach, holding them there for a few seconds, bringing them back down and repeating the action. Once you do this a few times, gently rub their belly in a downwards motion.
HAND MASSAGE: Using both hands, slowly roll your baby’s hand from below the shoulder working your way to their wrist.
FACE MASSAGE: Place your fingers on the centre of baby’s forehead and slowly massage round the face, down to the cheeks and repeat the motion. To relieve nasal congestion, use your fingertips to gently rub on either side of nose in an up and down motion. Make sure you don’t get too close to baby’s eyes.
BACK MASSAGE: Once you’ve massaged baby’s front side, you can slowly turn baby onto the tummy and massage the back. Apply gentle strokes from top to bottom and repeat the motion several times.
CHEST MASSAGE: Place your hands on baby’s chest and gently massage outwards from the centre. Applying gentle strokes towards the heart can increase blood flow and get your baby to become more alert and focused. However, when you want baby to go to sleep, apply strokes in the opposite direction, i.e., away from the heart to help them relax. To help loosen phlegm and clear a congested chest, use your fingertips to massage your baby’s chest and upper back in heart-shaped strokes.
- Watch your baby for cues and respond accordingly. Sometimes, your baby may not be in the mood for their regular massage. Improvise based on your baby’s responses. If your baby gets very upset, agitated or falls asleep, you can stop the massage.
- Make sure you are gentle yet firm while massaging your little one and choose a safe, hypoallergenic and specially-formulated Baby Massage Oil, such as our Softsens Baby Nourishing Massage Oil. Using a light baby oil makes it easier to give a massage, as your fingers will easily glide across baby’s skin, comforting & soothing them.
WHAT “NOT TO DO” WHEN MASSAGING YOUR BABY
Make sure that you avoid these common mistakes when massaging your baby.
- Don’t press or pinch your baby’s nipples or the surrounding area during an infant massage. This can cause serious harm. Be extremely gentle while massaging your little one. It should always be a soothing and calming experience.
- Keep the oil away from baby’s eyes and mouth.
- Be extremely careful when you pick baby up after a massage as their skin is very sticky at this time.
- If baby has any medical conditions, make sure you consult your doctor before starting any massage ritual.
- Avoid massaging your little one if she/she seems overstimulated, cranky, sleepy or hungry. Babies generally don’t like to be massaged when they are unwell either.
WHY CHOOSE SOFTSENS BABY NOURISHING MASSAGE OIL?
The best baby massage oil for your little one is one that is gentle, mild and specially-formulated with ingredients to nourish their sensitive skin. Softsens Baby Nourishing Massage Oil is designed to gently calm, soothe, soften and hydrate your baby’s delicate skin.
- Lightweight and non-greasy, it spreads easily and absorbs quickly into the deeper layers of the skin to moisturize without leaving behind a sticky residue
- It is enriched with 3 nourishing natural oils - almond, olive and coconut - and Vitamin E to gently nourish your baby’s sensitive skin, leaving it soft and smooth
- Almond oil is rich in vitamin A, E, B1 & B6, naturally rich in emollients that prevent the skin from becoming dry and is suitable for babies even dry & sensitive skin.
- Olive oil is rich in anti-oxidants, phenolic compounds, Vitamin E & K. It has acts as a great moisturizer for baby’s delicate skin, and also helps in improving baby’s skin tone.
- Coconut Oil is filled with saturated fats that help to lock in moisture, keeping baby’s skin soft, smooth & supple.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant and protects the skin from free radical damage and moisturizes the skin deeply, protecting it from dryness & itchiness for a longer duration.
- Its light and sweet fragrance is inspired by the warmth and love that a mother gives her child, leaving your baby feeling cozy, warm and soothed.
Share your favourite baby massage techniques and tips with us and let us know how it has helped with your little one.