Massage is a lovely way for you to express your love and care for your baby. Massage can soothe your baby and help them to sleep. Massage has many added benefits for your baby, including improving weight gain, aiding digestion, improving circulation, and easing teething pain. Massage is a great way for you and your partner to bond with your baby, and you may find it relaxing, too!
What is baby massage?
Baby massage is gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body with your hands. You can use oils or a moisturizer to help your hands to glide smoothly over your baby’s skin. As part of your massage routine, you can gently manipulate your baby’s ankles, wrists and fingers.
What are the benefits of baby massage?
There are lots of ways baby massage can benefit not just your baby, but you and your partner as well. Massage may help your baby to:
- develop mentally, socially and physically
- stay relaxed and not get upset
- cry and fuss less
- sleep better
One study found that massage in the early days could help newborns to recover from jaundice more quickly. You may find that giving your baby a massage lifts your mood and helps you to feel more empowered as a parent.
Massage may be particularly good for premature babies in special care, resulting in:
- Improved weight gain
- A more stable heart rate
- Calmer response to stress and pain
- More stable brain activity
These benefits may contribute to the finding that massaged premature babies tend to be well enough to go home with their family sooner than babies who aren’t massaged.
When is the best time to massage your baby?
A good time to massage your baby is when they are awake, but settled. You may like to make it part of your baby’s bedtime routine, perhaps after a bath and before a bedtime feed. A massage before bedtime will help your baby to wind down after the stimulation of the day and become calm, ready for sleep.
What do you need before you start a massage?
You should find a good room for baby massage where your baby will be comfortable. Make sure the room is warm (around 24 degrees C) with no droughts. You may prefer to keep your baby’s vest on if it is a little cool or let her enjoy being completely naked for a change.
- Have everything that you’ll need to hand, including:
- massage oil or an emollient cream
- towels or muslin squares to mop up any accidents
- clothes to dress your baby in afterwards
- your usual nappy-changing kit
How should you massage your baby?
For the first few times, you may just want to massage your baby’s legs until they get used to the sensation. To learn a massage routine, you could ask your health visitor whether there is a clinic or children’s center near you that runs a baby massage course.
Reading your baby’s cues is the most important aspect of massage. Your baby will tell you when the massage needs to end and which strokes they like or dislike. If your baby starts to cry during the massage, they are telling you that they have had enough.