Baby massage is a simple way to bond with your baby. It isn't difficult to do, and you don't have to be a licensed massage therapist in order to give your child a wonderful, soothing massage.
Benefits of Infant Massage
Once you become more adept at giving your baby a massage, you'll begin to realize the benefits that it will offer for both you and your baby. As you continue to massage your child, you'll learn which techniques work the best. Some of the most obvious benefits of infant massage include the following:
- It encourages bonding between your child and you.
- Baby massage can soothe a fussy baby.
- Massage can ease colic pain, earaches, and other minor aches and pains.
- It can help to regulate your child's respiratory and digestive systems.
- Infant massage may help your baby fall asleep easier because she will be so relaxed.
- It gives parents another opportunity to show their love for their baby.
How to Massage Baby
Before you begin your first massage, you'll want to make sure that the room you are working in is a comfortable temperature. You should undress your baby, but if he appears cold, warm the room up some more, and cover any areas of the body that you aren't massaging at the moment. Many parents like to use baby lotion as they massage their infants. Be sure you apply the lotion to your hands to warm it before using it on baby's delicate skin.
As you massage your baby, speak or sing softly to her. Use tender, loving motions. Remember, you are communicating not only with your words, but also with your hands. Press lightly with your palms, and for smaller areas use your fingertips.
Begin with your child's head and face, working gently around her facial features. Then, progress down her neck to her shoulders. You can massage your baby's arms by forming a ring with your fingers and thumb and stroking her arm gently in a downward motion. You can gently rotate her wrist. Don't force anything, however.
The best way to massage her tummy is to use circular movements. Continue to work your hands in a clockwise or counterclockwise motion. As you move down her legs, you can use your palm to press gently. You can also move her legs back and forth slowly, as if she were riding a bicycle. Don't forget to massage baby's feet, including her toes!
Once you've finished massaging the front of your baby, you can turn her over on her tummy and begin at the base of her head. You can use smooth, long strokes down the trunk of her body, her arms, and her legs. You can also focus on particular spots using soft, circular motions with your fingertips.
Infant Massage Classes
If you are uncomfortable trying to massage your infant for the first time, you might want to consider enrolling in an infant massage class. The massage instructors will show you how to massage your child, along with finding pressure points, focusing on your baby's discomforts, and finding the confidence to give your child a wonderful massage.
If your baby suffers from colic, you can learn specific techniques and strokes that will soothe and calm your infant. Research has shown that premature infants and babies with health problems also benefit from infant massage, and many classes specialize in working with parents of special needs children.
Finally, whether you take a class or attempt to massage baby on your own, remember that this should be a pleasant experience for you both. If your child seems uncomfortable, don't force the issue. Try it again at a later time. If she appears more comfortable in one position over the other, then massage her in that position only during that session. Above all, enjoy this special time with your baby!