Benefits of baby massage
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You may have heard about baby massage in your antenatal classes or a parent and baby magazine, but did you know how many benefits it has?
Babies love skin to skin contact and find it very soothing. Just think how your baby reacts when you pick her up after she’s been crying – nine times out of ten, her crying calms down or stops completely and this is down to your touch.
Baby massage has a similar effect; soothing baby and helping her to relax. Recent studies have shown that massaging a baby can help her sleep more peacefully and help with the tiring war against colic and constipation as well as reducing fussiness and crying.
But how does it work?
It helps the central nervous system to work more effectively by starting a domino effect – her brain will start to produce serotonin (the feel good chemical) and reduce the amount of cortisol, which the body releases in stressful situations. Your baby will feel more relaxed and her heartbeat and breathing will slow down as she enters a state of bliss. Doesn’t that sound lovely… if only you could join her!
Skin-on-skin contact is also great for bonding with your baby. Touch and rhythmic movements are your strongest forms of communication in these early stages and it reinforces your bond. If your partner is worried about not spending enough time with your baby, you could encourage them to gently massage to help develop their relationship.
Tips for massaging your baby:
- Make sure you plan in advance and have the room quiet, warm and lit with dim lighting. Massage is best done in the evening when your baby is naturally tired so could be tied in with a nappy change/bath-time routine.
- Make sure your nails are trimmed and contain no sharp or jagged edges that could scratch their delicate skin and remove all jewellery – rings, watches and bracelets all need to be off to make sure there are no nicks or catches.
- Place your baby on the changing table, with a soft baby towel underneath to provide a nice warm, snug sensation.
- Warm a small amount of baby oil in your hands, making sure to coat both sides of your hands. Start with their hand, start rubbing gently in small and light movements. You could speak or sing to them in quiet, soothing tones and if they let you, gently rub their arms with your hands and continue over the body.
- If they don’t like the massage, do not force it on them. Instead finish and get them dressed and then spend a few minutes having a nice cuddle. Do not get put off though and do try again, each time aiming to massage a little more so that they gets used to it.
- There are many baby massage classes up and down the country if you would like to try further techniques and we advise speaking to your health visitor if you would like further information.