What is infant/baby massage?
Infant/baby massage is a gentle and rhythmic stroking of the baby’s body using the hands. It is an excellent way of gently nurturing and spending time with your baby. You can use various types of oils and moisturisers to help your hands smoothly glide over the baby’s skin. You can gently stimulate your baby’s ankles, wrists, and fingers.
The soothing strokes of the hands help stimulate the production of the happy hormone oxytocin in you and your baby. Oxytocin is a type of hormone that makes you feel warm and loving when you are holding your baby close or breastfeeding her.
Is infant/baby massage safe?
Babies are known for their delicately soft skin. They are also extremely sensitive so it is possible to overstimulate them with all of the nerve receptors.
The following are a few safety tips to observe when massaging the baby:
- Avoid using massage oil on the face
- Avoid massaging the top of the baby’s head
- Avoid using deep massages
- Keep the massage very short
- Always stop if the baby shows signs that he or she has had enough
- Avoid using massage oils with harsh ingredients
- Be careful in picking the baby up following the massage
When can I start massaging my newborn?
You should wait for at least 45 minutes after feeding before you can start massaging the baby as it may cause vomiting if you start massaging too soon. You should pay close attention to the baby’s mood when you massage. If the baby appears calm and content and has a steady gaze, it may mean that he or she enjoys the massage. But, if the baby is turning his or her head away or the arms become stiff, it might mean the baby does not like the massage.
Infant/baby massage involves some basic techniques:
- Create a calm atmosphere
- Use gentle touch when massaging
- Slowly stroke and knead each part of the baby’s body
- Stay relaxed
- Watch how the baby responds to the massage
Once you’ve started massaging the baby, it is up to you when and how often you massage the baby. Giving a newborn baby daily massages is also okay. A young toddler might enjoy a nightly massage as part of his or her soothing bedtime routine.
What are the benefits of infant/baby massage?
Research suggests that there are various health benefits from infant/baby massage which include:
- Encourages a healthy bond between you and the baby
- Helps the baby to relax
- Promotes longer and better sleep
- Improves the immune system
- Positively affects the hormones that affects the stress among babies
- Reduces crying
- Regulates digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems
- Helps the production of endorphins
- Relieves pain and discomfort from gas and colic, congestion, and teething
Further research might still be needed, but some studies suggest that infant/baby massaging involving moderate pressure helps in promoting growth among premature babies.