There is nothing more soothing and calming than a good body massage. As adults, we love getting massages for various reasons, either to relieve stress or to calm our nerves either way, a good massage goes a long way in affecting our physical and emotional health.
Just like adults, babies love to be massaged. That soothing and calming feeling you get from massage babies gets them too. Infant massage is a therapeutical way of rubbing or massaging an infant in a specifically designed way. There are lots of benefits from infant massage for both the infant and the massage givers.
It is often advisable for parents and relatives to partake in this act as it helps create an emotional bond between them. Everyone needs a caring and assuring touch to reaffirm that someone is there for us any time, likewise for infants. A calm massage helps support your child’s sensory abilities and engages them to mindfully recognize non-verbal communication.
Giving your infant a massage has a variety of benefits ranging from them feeling loved, having a good sleep, healthy growth to an increasing emotional bond between parents and infants.
Babies are used to the comfort of the womb, where they got everything easily. A good massage will help them adapt to the outside world quickly.
Types of Infant massage
- Belly massage: Rub your fingertips gently over your infant’s tummy from her navel angle in a clockwise motion repeatedly
- Leg massage: Repeatedly glide your arms from the infant’s thigh to her ankle while firmly wrapping your hands around her legs. Do this repeatedly with both legs.
- Arm massage: From your baby’s shoulder to her wrist, gently roll her arms between your hands. Do this repeatedly for both arms.
- Neck Massage: Place your thumb on one side of your infant’s neck with two of your fingertips on the other side.while supporting the infant’s head with your other hand in a circular motion, gently rub the infant’s neck repeatedly.
- Hold me close: In the late 1970s, this method of infant massage was introduced in South America. It was used for infants born prematurely in areas with poor neonatal care. This technique is also called kangaroo care. Using this massage technique, the mother of the premature Infant holds him with her tummy and his on the same level. This method of infant massage has proven to aid infant growth, reduce infection, and breathing problems in babies born prematurely. This type of infant massage has become Popularly known and used worldwide by mothers as it creates a special bond between mothers and infants.
Benefits of infant massage
- It improves sleep: A good massage will make your baby sleep soundly and longer. Most infants find it difficult to sleep on time but fall asleep immediately after being massaged by their parents.
- It creates a bond: Infant massage promotes good bonding and communication between parents and infants, encouraging good interaction. Giving your baby a massage helps you understand the baby and also creates an emotional bond between you two and enables you to understand your infants’ non-verbal cues.
- Improves functioning of the gastrointestinal tract: Babies are always distressed when there is excess gas in their stomach leading to discomfort and this, in turn, affects the parents also. A good massage helps the baby pass out those gases and relieves him from distress.
- Relieves the pain of teething: Babies go through a lot of pain when teething. Learning and giving your baby a face massage helps to reduce the stress of teething and helps to release the natural pain reliever in the body called endorphins.
- Stimulate growth: Research has shown that babies who are massaged often tend to grow faster and also gain weight if they are lightweight.
Infant massage tips
Below are some things you should keep in mind before giving your infant a massage:
Make it a daily routine
Include in your schedule every day a spare time for your infant massage. Ensure the time you set aside for the massage won’t be occupied with any other activity. When you make massage a daily routine for your infant, they tend to expect and enjoy it.
Choose a calm atmosphere
Make sure you massage your baby in a warm and cozy environment so as to make them comfortable and avoid catching colds since they will probably be naked when you massage them. Maintain eye contact while you undress her and place her on her back so she can look you in the eyes while you a massage.
You can play some soft music in the background or sing for your infant while you give them a massage.
Be gentle with your touch
Baby’s skin is delicate, and you may not want them to get injured while massaging. Slowly and gently massage each part of their body from their head to their feet.
Using oil for infant massage is optional. Get oils that don’t clog their skin pores and can be easily absorbed by your infant’s skin. Place your infant on a towel to avoid the oil running over the place. Make sure you use oil that is unscented, mainly vegetable or fruit oil. Using oil makes it easier to glide your hands smoothly around your infant’s body.
Follow your baby’s cue
Just like adults, babies have moods and would not like to be massaged when they don’t feel like it. If you notice your infant experiencing some sort of discomfort while you give them their massage, stop and do it later when they feel like it.
While giving your infant a massage, you can talk or sing for them. Repeatedly call their names to get their attention while you slowly glide your hands around their body.
It is not compulsory you must give your infant a full body massage on a daily basis. Sometimes you can massage some parts of their body and leave the rest. If you notice your baby is enjoying the exercise, you can continue by repeatedly massaging from their head to their feet.