Baby massage is a great way to connect with your baby- it releases the hormone oxytocin in both baby and the grown up! This can help you both to feel happier, reduce stress, and improve your bond. Studies have shown that regular baby massage can improve sleep, reduce the symptoms of colic, and stimulate growth hormone.
So you’d like to do some baby massage but not sure where to start?
The first thing to consider is the timing of the massage- try to find a time that your baby isn’t hungry or over tired. And gently lay them onto a flat surface (the floor is best so the they can’t roll off).
Always ask your baby if they would like a massage- I know it seems silly, but it promotes consent and let’s your baby know what to expect- especially if you’re going to do it regularly.
Oils- Under 1 month old it’s not actually advised to use any oils on the skin as it is so thin. From one month, an unfragranced oil is best with no nasties. Sunflower oil or vegetable oil is gentle on the skin, however olive oil isn’t recommended as it contains oleic acids which can break down the skin barrier and make skin become drier over time.
Tiffany Field, an expert in infant massage, suggests that you start with a little face massage- it’s best not to use any oil for this part.
Here are 8 of her tried and tested techniques:
- Gently stroke the skin above and below your baby’s lips.
- Moving on to their chest, start with your finger tips in the middle and draw a heart shape with your hands.
- Lift each arm and gently massage under each arm pit.
- Cup your hands around the top of one arm and give it a gentle squeeze as you work your way down the arm. Repeat with the other arm.
- Stroke the soft part of your baby’s tummy in a downward motion.
- Cup your hand around one leg and give it a gentle squeeze as you work your way down the leg. Repeat with the other leg.
- Gently rub each foot, giving each toe a little squeeze too.
- Turn your baby on their front and gently stroke their back.
If you’re hoping to relieve your baby’s colic, the following sequence can help when done twice a day:
- Rest your hand flat on your baby’s lower tummy for a few seconds.
- Stroke your baby’s tummy one hand after the other from their tummy button downwards.
- Gently bend your baby’s knees so that they are resting on their tummy for about ten seconds. Gently bounce them forward and back if they don’t seem to enjoy their legs being held in the same position.
- Gently stretch their legs out and give them a little wiggle.
- Using both hands, make small clockwise circles on their tummy.
- Repeat step 3 and 4.
Let me know whether you have found the techniques useful!