Touch is one of the first ways that infants experience the world. They not only communicate with you through touch, but you can also communicate your love and care to them through baby massage.
There are tons of benefits of baby massage! Here are a few:
- It can help reduce colicky crying, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- It can help your baby sleep more easily, according to WebMD
Are you sold on the benefits but don’t know where to start? Here are 5 easy tips and techniques that will help you get started on your journey to baby massage bliss.
1. Timing is everything
WebMD recommends starting massage any time after 10 to 14 days after birth, but massage can make a difference for babies of any age.
Once you start your massage practice, choose a consistent time of day and plan carefully to get the most out of it. If you want to see the long-term benefits of baby massage, make it part of your routine so that you can maintain consistency.
Wait at least 45 minutes after feeding — you don’t want any mid-massage spit up! A good idea would be to link your massage to another part of your afternoon routine, like right before bedtime or after a nap.
2.Prepare a comfortable environment
Set the mood and make the environment for your baby as comfortable as possible. Choose a warm room by turning up the thermostat a few extra degrees. Then create your massage surface by layering blankets or towels on top of your table, changing table or countertop. The surface doesn’t matter too much, as long as it’s flat and soft.
The only other massage material you’ll need is some lotion or oil. Some moms love baby oil, but any lotion that is made for your baby’s age works just as well.
3. Ask for permission
It might sound ridiculous to ask permission from your baby, but body language cues can say a lot about whether you should continue the massage. Using warm, soothing tones, talk to your baby and touch gently at first, increasing the pressure slightly if your baby’s having a good time. Throughout the entire massage, look for behaviors of continued permission. Are they still happy and relaxed? Your baby may not be able to say “yes” but there’s no doubt that they can tell you when it’s time to stop.
4. Start from the top
Gently rub your fingers in circles, starting at your baby’s head and slowly working your way down the rest of their body.
Pause as you work your way down and focus on each part of their body: cheeks, necks, shoulders, back.
5. Communication is key
Feel free to talk, sing, or tell a story during the massage.
In addition to verbal communication, pay attention to body language the whole time. If your baby stays happy and relaxed, that’s an indication that you should continue to massage them. If not, it’s time to stop the massage for today and try again another time.
The Bottom Line
Enjoy this quality time with your baby, and don’t stress out if at first it doesn’t go as you planned. Baby massage is a learning process for parents and the baby, so you’ll both get better at it with practice.