Massaging your baby is a great way to bond with her and calm and settle her. It also offers plenty of health benefits.
You can start your baby from about 2 weeks (or once the cord falls off). Baby massage is safe, simple and best of all, anyone can do it.
• Choose an appropriate time i.e. when he is well rested (mornings are good) or the last thing in the night after his bath.
• If you use oil, opt for baby oil or cold compressed versions such as almond oil.
• Wash your hands, remove jewellery and make sure your nails are trimmed.
• Do it in a warm room with warm hands, using slightly heated oil.
• Remember that massage is not a mechanical routine – you need to bring yourself to the moment.
• Use gentle rubbing and soft stroking motions.
• If your baby becomes fretful it is best to stop and try another day.
• Always wait 45 minutes after feeding before massaging.
• Avoid massage if baby has any illness, skin rash or infection.
• Avoid massaging on the injection site (after an immunization shot) for at least a week.
You will need baby oil or lotion, soft towel or comforter for your baby to lie on, soft music or you can sing to your baby, some wipes and diapers just in case.
There are 3 basic positions to choose from when massaging your baby. Pick one that you find most comfortable.
1. If you decide to stand, place your baby on a changing table and stand in front of him so that your baby faces you.
2. If sitting, you can sit cross-legged on the floor or bed. Lay your baby on the comforter on his back facing you.
3. You can also sit on a couch and place your baby on a towel over your crossed legs. Position your baby on his back facing you.
Massage is love which is one unique breath, breathing in two. – Frederick Leboyer
Rub your Baby the Right Way!
Begin by massaging your baby’s feet with your thumbs. If baby shows resistance wait until baby is ready. Use this time to softly talk to her about what you are doing or sing a lullaby. Your touch should be fluid but firm at the same time. Use repetitious strokes over her feet, legs, tummy, chest, arms, hands, back, and face. Rotate, squeeze pull and stretch.
• Feet and legs:
the feet and legs are areas where babies are most receptive. First massage the feet using your thumbs and gently massage each toe. Then rub the ankle stroking from heel to toe. Move your hands to one leg; work from his thighs to his knees in a downward motion and gently squeeze around the shins. Do the same for the next leg.
• Tummy and chest:
Bicycle her legs and push both knees to the belly and hold them there for about 20 sec. Do this a few times. Next, gently stroke the chest using a downward motion. Rub the tummy clockwise using a circular motion starting at her lower belly, up and across to the top of her tummy. Next, using your fingertips massage outwards from navel. (This may cause your baby to poop or release gas).
• Arms, neck and shoulders:
Stroke his neck and move down unto his shoulders. Massage each arm by squeezing as you move down. Massage the wrists, hands and fingers with your thumbs and fingers.
Lightly massage the head, avoiding the fontanelles. Stroke the sides of his cheeks. Massage his forehead from the center out, moving across his eyebrows and ears.
Turn baby unto his tummy. Stroke from his neck to the buttocks then stroke from one side to the other side of his back a few times. Complete the massage by lightly brushing your fingers up and down his body – this final step will let your baby know that massage is over.
If your baby shows signs of restlessness, she is signaling you to change the pace or end the massage. Wipe the excess oil from her body but let a little remain as nourishment to the skin. Bathe her with soap and warm water later that day or the next morning.
• Massage is an effective way to soothe and communicate with your baby.
• Massage can help your baby sleep better.
• Massage has lots to offer in terms of physical and psychological benefits.
• Massage reduces fussiness, relieves gas and constipation, and even reduces colic.
• Massage is believed to strengthen the immune system, improve muscle development and stimulate growth.
• Massage benefits baby greatly if done daily for a minimum period of 6 months.
• Massaged everyday for 15 minutes resulted in babies who cried less, were more alert and socially engaged, gained weight faster and had better IQs.