We all know that nothing beats a massage for taking away the stress of the day and making us feel totally relaxed. And it turns out, our little ones enjoy it too! Although a variety of cultures have been massaging their infants for hundreds of years, it has only become popular in the UK in recent decades. Aside from being a great way to relax your baby, baby massage offers plenty of other benefits for both babies and parents. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a qualified masseuse to soothe your tiny spa-seeker, baby massage is a really easy and simple way to soothe your little one.
Baby massage is simply gently and rhythmically stroking your baby’s body with your hands. You could use some oils or creams to get a smoother glide over their skin, and gently move their ankles, wrists and fingers to loosen them up. If your little one has dry skin or eczema, you can use their emollient cream. Your baby probably won’t appreciate Spa Music Volume II, but they will love it if you gently talk, hum or sing to them as you rub their skin.
what are the benefits of baby massage?
Baby massage offers plenty of benefits for your little one, physically, socially and mentally. We all know how relaxing massages can be, so it’s an ideal way to soothe your precious babe and settle them down to sleep. It can also improve their mood, helping them to cry and fuss less, and react better to stress and pain. Studies have shown that baby massage early on can help newborns recover from jaundice quicker.
If your little one came into the world a bit earlier than expected, baby massage can be particularly helpful for their development. Baby massage can be used to stimulate the vagus nerve which connects the brain to some really important parts of the body: the heart, lungs and digestive system. Because of this, it can help premature babies to improve weight gain by benefiting digestion and bowel movements. It can also stabilise their heart rate and stabilise their brain activity, helping it to develop at a normal level.
Baby massage isn’t only great for little ones, it has lots of benefits for parents too! Baby massage can be really empowering for parents too. It sets aside special time in busy schedules to completely concentrate and actively bond with your baby. During massage, it will come naturally to make lots of eye contact and chat or murmur to baby. This interaction can be particularly helpful if you’re suffering from the baby blues, as it’s a more hands-on way to create a feeling of closeness.
Partners often miss out on the hands-on aspect of caring for babies (minus the occasional nappy changes). They can’t breastfeed, and once they go back to work, the amount of time they get with your newborn can massively decrease. Why not try making a massage a regular part of their routine? Maybe at bedtime, when your partner gets home from work. It’s an ideal way to help bring them closer together, and is great for relieving stress after a long day in the office.
how to massage a baby
There are plenty of different ways to massage your baby. You can experiment with different body parts and use different techniques to find out what they like best. If you want a bit more guidance on how to do a baby massage, have a look for a baby massage class or check out videos on YouTube for some free advice.
Lay down a towel or folded sheet as a surface for your little one, maybe with a changing mat underneath for extra padding. To start, warm up the oil or cream between your hands. Doing this near your baby’s ears can act as an audio cue, so in time they’ll know that this means a massage is about to start. Start by rubbing their legs, as they’re used to having them touched during nappy changes.
Wrap your hand around their thigh, and gently stroke down towards their ankle. You can softly squeeze as you go. Repeat on the other leg, then do the same motion in the other direction. This technique can also be used on their tiny arms. For a body massage, lay your hands flat on their chest and tummy. Softly spread them out to the sides, drawing little circles with your fingertips.
Even if your little one isn’t spending a lot of time on their feet, they’ll still enjoy a foot rub. Use your thumbs to stroke their feet from heel to toes. Gently tug each toe between your thumb and forefinger. You can do the same with their little hands and draw circles on their palms while singing nursery rhymes like ‘round and round the garden’. The most important thing when giving your baby a massage is to pay attention to their cues. They will let you know if they are not enjoying it. And who knows, if you’re lucky, they may remember how great massages are when looking for gifts for you when they’re older!
The most important thing when giving your baby a massage is to pay attention to their cues. They will let you know if they are not enjoying it. And who knows, if you’re lucky, they may remember how great massages are when looking for gifts for you when they’re older!