Every new mama and the ones that are preparing to become one have read about baby massages. These highly-praised activities will not only bring a full range of benefits, but also create a closer bond with your biggest joy. If you are still confused by why and how to give your baby a soothing massage, we prepared an easy guide that will answer all of your questions.
What Are The Benefits?
You’ll be surprised to hear the numerous benefits these massages can deliver. The greatest one of them all is a relaxed baby that sleeps much better. Especially when you do it as part of a bedtime routine. Aside from this, you can expect improved digestion, less fussiness when the teeth are coming out, balanced weight gain, and a huge satisfaction for the parents as well.
When Is The Best Time To Start?
If you feel ready to do it, you can give your baby a soothing massage right after birth. The only thing you need to do is talk with a doctor. Always consult a professional before implementing any new techniques. If it’s a prematurely born little one, you might want to wait until the newborn reaches the previously expected date.
When it comes to the time of the day, it really varies. Some parents find it best to massage their baby a little over an hour after feeding time, while others do it after a bath or a nappy change. Another great idea is to practice this habit after a nighttime bath and before the last feed of the day.
Feel free to try out all the options and you’ll figure out what your baby enjoys the most. Most parents do massages once a day, but there are also the ones who prefer to do it twice. In the end, it all depends on your baby’s mood.
What To Do?
Here comes the hard part! Just kidding, when you decide to give your baby a soothing massage you are connecting in a very special way. There are no specific rules to follow just useful tips. These guidelines will make the job so much easier and a real enjoyment for both of you.
The first factor you need is a good mood on both sides. Parents are often stressed out and tired. Well, not for this activity! Be as relaxed as possible, this is your one-on-one bonding time. Choose a quiet, warm room, with just enough lighting. Take off your jewellery and warm up your hands before you start.
Place a cosy blanket on the changing table, bed or the floor. Set your baby on it, and keep eye contact. During this whole time, you should talk to the little one with a nice, soft tone. The first time around, we suggest that you use light strokes and make them a bit firmer with the following one. You’ll notice a smile on their face, so don’t worry about pressing too hard. If the baby starts crying or appears not to be enjoying it, try another time.
Massage every single part of the baby’s body, including the arms, legs, stomach, head, back, waist and chest. Start from the feet, and slowly work your way up. The massaging on the tummy should be done with circular clockwise motions.
To help your baby relax even more, talk throughout the whole massage. The recommended time for beginners is half an hour, but once you get a hold of it, it can vary from 15 to 20 minutes.
Let’s not forget about the most important tip. Follow your baby’s face and reactions all the time. If you see a happy, giggling baby, you’ll know that you should continue. If at any moment the little one becomes fussy, stop the massaging. It’s meant to be enjoyable for both of you, not a source of stress.
Should You Use A Cream Or Oil?
That’s totally your decision. Both creams and oils will work, as long as you rub them on your hands and use them warm, pleasant to the skin. Newborns don’t need anything on their skin, wait until 6 weeks old before using oil. A simple grapeseed or sweet almond oil will do the trick. Pro tip: make sure it’s ethically harvested and a small bottle like this one, a little goes a long way.
The products shouldn’t have any smell and you should opt for a very small amount for each session. The main benefit is that it will avoid unpleasant friction between the baby’s skin and your hands. No essential oils are allowed for babies, so you can pamper yourself with one instead.
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What To Avoid
This is, without a doubt, the most important part of giving your baby a soothing massage. There are things you want to avoid, so that’s why you have to be sure that you are well informed. The following mistakes are common, keep your eyes open:
- Don’t schedule a massage at the same time every day. The moment will completely depend on your baby. Avoid doing it within an hour after feeding time, and you absolutely don’t want to massage when the baby is hungry. The ideal time frame seems to be after a bath, but only if baby is not fussy.
- The room has to be warm. Whatever you do, make sure that the place where you’ll perform massage has a pleasant temperature. Babies hate being cold!
- A light touch on the baby’s skin can be ticklish, so don’t be afraid to use a stronger rub. Once you start massaging you’ll see it from baby’s face whether that’s pleasant.
- Do not use any products before doing a patch test. A little one’s skin is very sensitive, which means you have to make sure that you’re getting the right oil. Doctors recommend that you stay away from essential oils, especially in the first six months.
- Don’t massage a cranky baby. Although these nice rubs can help your baby be much more relaxed, cry less, and sleep better, it simply won’t do it when he/she is visibly upset. Wait until babies are calm, happy again and you can continue with the regular routine.
When it comes to fever and massaging, the reports vary. Some professionals advise that you should go ahead with the massaging as long as you notice that the baby is feeling better and the fever is lower. They also recommend starting with a massage while the clothes are still on. Others say that you should probably skip it. Either way, have in mind to be really careful and be led by the baby.
I hope you enjoy massaging your baby, I loved doing it with all mine, and I went to a special class with Daniel, he wasn’t always happy but it was a special time to spend together and I got to be with other parents in the same space. Any questions, feel free to ask.
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