Baby massage is a new parent’s secret weapon. It can calm your baby when he’s extra fussy, and soothe him to sleep after an overstimulating day. It can help relieve colic, and has also been known to help premature babies gain weight faster!
But most of all baby massage is a way for parents and baby to bond. Your baby’s sense of touch is one of the first senses to be developed. He may not see you well, but he can hear your voice and associate it with the gentlest, most relaxing strokes. Baby massage is the touch of love.
Baby massage helps your baby’s development
Clinical studies have shown that baby massage has a tremendous impact on a baby’s physical development. It helps strengthen your baby’s limbs, and improves their coordination, motor skills and muscle tone. It helps your baby develop a stronger immune system. It facilitates faster growth and helps your baby gain weight in the early stages of his life.
Baby massage makes it easier for your baby to relax. Infant-stress slows down your baby’s mental and physical development, and lowers her immune system. Research also shows that baby massage has emotional benefits for both parent and child.
Baby Massage Technique # 1: ‘Smile’
This is a facial massage technique that helps relieve your baby’s tension from sucking, teething and crying.
With your thumbs, make a smile first on your baby’s upper lip, then the lower lip. Gently lie your fingers flat across her forehead and, with circular strokes, continue over her temples, the hinges of her jaw, behind her ears and the rest of her scalp.
Baby Massage Technique # 3: ‘Back and Forth’
This helps develop your baby’s back muscles which will eventually support her spine.
Start with both your hands together at the top of her back, at a right angle to the spine. Move your hands back and forth, in opposite directions, going down her back to the buttocks, then up her shoulders and back down once again.
Baby Massage Technique # 3: ‘I love you’
This technique is a special form of stomach touch therapy in which you tell your baby ‘I love you’ in loving tones, while spelling out ‘I-L-U’ on her skin with your hand.
Place your hand on your baby’s side. Push downwards, in an “I ” motion. Then, make an upside down “L” motion, going from your left to the right, then downwards. For the last step, make an upside down “U” motion, going from your left to your right.
Baby Massage Technique # 4: ‘Rolling’
This helps make your baby’s arm and leg muscles stronger. Just
roll your baby’s arm or leg between your hand, starting from the elbow an down to the wrist, then from the knee down to the ankle.
Baby Massage Technique # 5: ‘Squeeze & Twist’
This technique helps your baby become more flexible and limber. Wrap your hands around baby’s arm or leg, then squeeze and twist outwards (very gently!).
Baby Massage Tips
a. Do baby massage in the morning and early evening.
b. Schedule it right before a nap.
c. Wait at least 30 minutes after giving a feeding.
d. Use organic oils that won’t irritate baby’s sensitive skin.
e. Play relaxing music, dim the lights.
f. For greater bonding, maintain eye contact and speak to your baby in a low, soothing voice.
g. Try to use gentle but firm, even strokes. Watch your baby’s expression to see what he likes.
Baby massage is an excellent bedtime bonding ritual. Click here to get more ideas on how to get baby to sleep through the night.
Photo from bodycraft.com.au