All of us know how wonderful a good massage can be. It relaxes our muscles and our minds, promotes healing and circulation, and relieves pain. But did you know that massage could also be quite good for babies? Massage can be a relaxing and bonding time for you and your little one. Studies have supported that infant massage promotes improved parent-infant interaction, sleep and relaxation, reduced crying and has a beneﬁcial impact on a number of hormones controlling stress.
Especially during the first six months, babies respond best to smell, sound and touch and massage helps develop a loving bond and closeness. The touch and the sound of parents singing to them while giving them massages can help develop both the emotional and intellectual development of your child. It also helps firm up the soft muscles of babies, promotes the development of bones and joints and also aids in development of reflexes. Well-massaged babies have been observed to be generally happy, blissful and calm.
It is advised to use natural oils (almond, safflower, coconut) for massage because it helps reduce friction and also promote smooth movements and strokes across the body. Remember to use only edible oil as your baby will likely stick their hands in their mouth. There is no ideal time to massage your baby. The key is at your convenience, but never massage a baby too soon after she has been fed. You should also avoid massages when your baby has a fever, cold or any skin rashes. Each session of massage can last up to 10-30 minutes. Make sure to massage in a warm, naturally well-ventilated room. There are various techniques to massage your baby such as chest massage in downward strokes, abdominal massage around the navel, feet massage, the plough posture or knee-to-chest posture to help release wind which are also considered as anti-colic massage. Here are some examples.
Roll With It
You can also try a “rolling” massage on your little one. While she is lying in front of you on her back, begin at baby’s hip or shoulder and “roll” the limb, gently rocking it back and forth between your two hands (as if you are rolling out a coil of dough). Slowly move your way down from shoulder or hip to wrist or ankle.
Bike and Fly!
Another technique is called “The Bicycle & Butterfly.” With your baby laying on their back, gently grab their feet or ankles and move them in a bicycle fashion, pumping softly so their knees move up and down against the stomach. Next you can use that same idea on baby’s arms. Grasp their wrists or hands and moving them in a butterfly motion in and out from their chest.
Roll your baby onto her tummy. Using your fingertips, trace tiny circles on either side of their spine from the neck down to the buttocks. Finish with some long, firm strokes from their shoulders all the way to their feet.