The Resurgence of Baby Massage
Baby massage is a natural way to bond with your infant, and it’s a chance to spend some fun time together, too. Helping parents and children to connect and build a solid relationship, awareness of infant massage has increased in recent years. Could it help you and your baby?
What is baby massage?
Baby or infant massage has been practiced in many cultures since ancient days as a method to create a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere for parents and babies to interact. At a very young age, babies desire positive, loving physical contact from the parent or caregiver. Similar to massage for adults, infant massage involves gently rubbing, stroking, and kneading various parts of baby’s body. Typically lasting 15 minutes, infant massage can be performed as often as baby and his parents would like.
Benefits of infant massage
- For babies, infant massage:
- Promotes sleep pattern improvement. Babies who are massaged just before bed fall asleep faster and enjoy improved rest. They are more alert and active during wakeful hours. Baby massage can be continued into toddlerhood as a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Reduces stress. Cortisol, a hormone related to stress levels, is lower after an infant massage session. Because baby massage helps infants feel more relaxed and calm, they spend less time crying.
- Boosts preemie growth and development. Studies suggest that daily baby massage provides many wonderful benefits – especially for premature babies. Even while in the NICU, infant massage helps preemies have higher daily weight gain, increased motor activity, a raise in body temperature, and lower stress levels.
- Increases bonding with parents. It’s important for the growth and development of newborn babies to experience a secure environment and nurturing touch. Regular baby massage provides one-on-one time and positive interaction, providing a wonderful base for which a parent-child relationship can build.
- Decreases pain and discomfort. Massage can help infants who remain in the NICU with medical complications while not affecting the stability of their condition. Be sure to consult with your baby’s physician if you are unsure about beginning baby massage.
- For Parents:
While practicing baby massage, parents and caregivers learn to feel more comfortable and confident in caring for their baby. It offers practice for perceiving and recognizing how a newborn baby communicates. Baby massage is a great technique to utilize in calming and soothing a crying baby and promotes bonding due to skin-to-skin and eye contact between a baby and his parent. It’s especially helpful for fathers in learning how to respond and play with their baby and gain greater confidence in handling an infant.
I’m ready to start!
To begin baby massage, observe if your baby is content and calm. If he is stiff in your arms or turns his head away from you, it may not be the best time. You don’t want to try baby massage just after a feeding as it can make baby vomit, so wait at least 45 minutes after. Create a relaxing, comfortable environment and lay baby down on a blanket on a bed or the floor. Maintain eye contact with your baby and tell him it’s time for a massage while undressing him. If you would like, use non-toxic oil or lotion to decrease friction. Throughout the massage, talk to him about your day, tell a story, or sing a song. Gently rub baby’s thighs, feet and hands, waist, shoulders, back, and neck, spending one minute on each. Watch how your baby reacts; if he is displeased with a specific action, he will tell you. For visual direction, there are many instructional videos about baby massage on youtube.com.
Baby massage can be a wonderful opportunity for parents and babies to bond and interact in a positive way. With a multitude of benefits affecting development, behavior, physical growth, and more, it’s no wonder more and more parents are turning to the practice of infant massage.
Have you tried baby massage with your infant? Tell us about it in the comments!