Every mom looks for ways to bond with her baby and infant massage is not only soothing, but is a great way for a mother and her baby to get to know each other! Infant massage comes with several benefits and most babies love massage time. But before you start, here is some information to keep in mind.
What is Infant Massage?
Infant massage involves applying gentle strokes and rubbing your fingers over your baby’s body. After birth, one of the five senses that is most developed is the sense of touch. So massaging your baby is one of the best ways to connect and develop a bond with your little bub.
Benefits of Infant Massage
Research has proven that infant massage has several benefits. Let’s take a look at them:
- Massaging encouraging bonding and interaction between you and your baby
- It helps your baby to relax and has a calming effect that helps them to sleep
- Infant massage helps to minimize stress by positively affecting baby hormones thereby reducing crying
- You can perform infant massage for gas as certain babies suffer from cramps, gas, constipation, and colic pain
- Massages reduce muscular tension, teething discomfort, and helps to stimulate growth in preterm infants
How to Give an Infant a Massage
Whether you choose to massage your baby daily or every other day, is a personal choice. Massaging your baby in the morning can help them to have a great day. Or if you do it at night just before bedtime, it will help them sleep better.
Always pay attention to your baby’s mood to determine the best time for a massage. You can follow these steps for infant massage:
- At the base of your baby’s rib cage stroke with one hand downwards and then use your other hand to do the same in a motion like a paddle wheel.
- Use your fingers to massage your baby’s abdomen and then slowly take your fingers to the navel and massage in a clockwise direction.
- Next, hold your baby’s knees and feet together and gently push the knees up towards the abdomen. Rotating your baby’s hips around towards the right will help to release gas.
- Place your baby’s head in both your hands and massage the scalp using your fingertips but avoid the soft spot.
- Draw a heart shape on your baby’s face with both your hands and bring your hands together at the chin.
- Massage the ears using your thumb and index finger.
- Using your thumbs, stroke over your baby’s closed eyelids and eyebrows. Use your fingers to stroke from the bridge of the nose outwards towards the cheeks. Massage the jaw in small circles.
- Starting at the sternum, bring both your hands up to the shoulders by tracing a heart shape and then bring them back down together again. Stroke your baby’s chest outwards from the sternum to the shoulders.
- Using a crisscross pattern, stroke your baby’s hips diagonally from the side of one hip to the opposite shoulder and back down to the same hip.
- Placing your baby on the tummy and with your baby’s hands in front, keep your hands on your baby’s back and move back-and-forth in opposite directions from the base of the neck to the buttocks.
- Massage downwards beside the baby’s spine using your fingertips. Avoid putting pressure on the spine directly.
- Massage the shoulders in circular motions.
- Massage the buttocks as well.
Arms and Legs
- With the baby’s hand/leg relax the upper arm/ thigh by tapping lightly. Hold the arm/leg in one hand and with your other hand make a C-shape around the baby’s upper hand/leg and stroke gently downwards.
- Use both hands on your baby’s arm/leg and stroke downwards as if you are milking a cow.
- Massage each palm/foot and using gentle strokes massage the fingertips and slowly pull each finger/toe.
General Points to Keep in Mind for Infant Massage
- Always create a cozy atmosphere and massage your baby in a warm and quiet place. Make sure your baby is comfortable and that they are lying on their back.
- Always start slowly and massage your baby only as long as your baby is happy and you are okay with conducting the massage. Use gentle strokes but do not tickle your baby.
- You may choose to use oil to reduce friction, but the massage can be done without oil as well. Make sure that the oil is edible and odorless as it may get into your baby’s mouth.
Other than this, talk to your baby often and help them to relax. Try telling a story or singing a song to them during the massage. Discontinue massaging if your baby is in discomfort or if your baby has health issues.