If you’ve been asking yourself “What are the benefits of baby massage?” or “Why should I add baby massage to my already busy day?”, we hear you. We used to feel the exact same way--until we tried it.
Baby massage might seem like one more thing added onto an endless to-do list, but the benefits truly do make it worthwhile.
We didn’t just want to tell you that, thought-- we wanted insight from an expert, so we chatted with Licensed Massage Therapist and mother of two, Jennifer Mermoud.
KKG: Jennifer, first off- what are the benefits of infant massage? Why should mommas take the time to do this?
Jennifer: Massage helps create a bond with your baby. It allows them to feel the love and affection that you have for them through your touch. When you’re massaging baby, you are stimulating their central nervous system. This triggers the brain to produce more serotonin and less cortisol, which in turn allows baby to become less stressed and more relaxed.
There are other benefits, too-- it can aid in relief from constipation and colic, help reduce crying and fussiness, increase physical and emotional well-being, and help baby relax and sleep more peacefully.
KKG: What do moms need to get started?
Jennifer: Find a room that is quiet, safe, warm and comfortable for both you and baby. Make sure you are relaxed prior to the massage-- babies can sense our energy through our touch, so if you’re anxious or stressed, your baby will pick up on this. It’s also important that baby is calm before starting a massage. If they’re crying or fussy, a massage can be overstimulating and cause them to get more fussy.
When you’re giving your baby a massage, it’s your opportunity to connect with them. Talk, sing, make eye contact, smile. They are able to internalize this and will remember these moments and how happy and loved they felt.
Since babies love routines, making massage a part of your day can be even more beneficial for both you and baby. It provides an extra special way to connect with your baby daily, in just a short amount of time. And if you massage baby before bed time, they will be more relaxed and fall asleep quicker-- allowing you more time to relax, or to prep for the day ahead.
KKG: How long should a baby massage be?
Jennifer: This depends on how old the baby is. From a newborn to when they’re crawling or walking, plan on ten to 15 minutes. Once your baby becomes more active, it will be more challenging to get them to stay still, therefore a five- to ten-minute massage would be beneficial.
KKG: What are some simple techniques moms can use to get started?
Jennifer: Check your local area for classes on infant massage, or ask your massage therapist for a demonstration. There are also many books, DVDs and YouTube videos you can reference. I recommend reading books or watching videos before starting, so you can get familiar with the technique, rather than trying to do it while massaging your baby. If you’re trying to read a book or watch a video while massaging, you’ll end up distracted and miss the connection with your baby.
(image via Pinterest )
Some resources I recommend are:
Also, trust your natural instincts. Follow your baby’s cues as to what they like and what they don’t like.
KKG: Can you provide any specific infant massage suggestions for the problems that mommas face with their babies, like teething and gas?
Jennifer: Yes! Understanding reflexology is incredibly useful-- reflexology is based on the idea that there are points in our feet that are connected to every other area of our body. It is amazing how our whole body is on the bottom of our feet! I have personally used reflexology for my baby when she was colicky, teething and constipated. The best thing about reflexology is that it is able to be performed anywhere, at any time.
Before starting reflexology, it is important to make a connection with your baby. You can do so by placing your thumb on the solar plexus (below the third toe at the ball of the foot) and holding for a few seconds. You do this to open the reflexology session as well as close it.
For teething, a gentle reflexology massage of both feet in their entirety will help soothe baby. Be sure to massage the toes as well, because they coordinate with baby’s head and teeth. Hold each toe individually, give it a slight squeeze, and then finish with a circular motion going upwards.
For colic and constipation, I recommend a reflexology sequence that’s a 3-5 minute massage. Starting at the base of the foot (which, in reflexology, corresponds to the baby’s pelvic area), walk your thumb up your baby’s foot and work your way up to their toes - do this to the entire foot. If you do not feel comfortable walking your thumb up, you can apply gentle pressure and rub. Then, go to the middle of the foot and work your way from the outside of the foot to the inside applying gentle pressure. Repeat this two or three times, then repeat the entire process on the other foot. You are touching your baby’s feet, but working on their large intestine.
There are also many techniques that don’t involve reflexology. For diarrhea, digestion issues, constipation and gas, you can place one hand on top of your baby's stomach with your palm on their navel. Rest there for a couple of seconds, then begin to rub baby’s stomach over their navel in a slow, clockwise, circular motion. Repeat this about ten times. Next, alternate your hands as you rub down baby’s abdomen. Repeat this about ten times.
To work on their large intestine, start on baby’s left side and stroke down, then pick up your hand and bring to the right side of baby’s stomach. Rub across their stomach to the left side and then down their large intestine. Repeat this technique again. Then start all over again and repeat about five times.
Place your thumbs on baby’s navel and stretch out to the sides. Repeat this about five times.
Next, grab baby’s legs and bring them up to their stomach and then back down. Repeat this about five times. Finally, do a circular motion with the babies legs about three times.
KKG: This has been so helpful, Jennifer! One last question: what techniques can mommas use to help relax their baby at bedtime?
Jennifer: To aid in relaxation, the general technique should include soft, repeated strokes in a circular motion. Start at the baby’s head and work your way down. You can also turn the baby over onto their tummy and massage their back as well, using this same technique.
There you have it, mommas-- a short, simple introduction to baby massage that you can start using now to help relieve your baby from discomfort and help her drift off to sleep with ease.
Psst...don’t forget: our 3-in-1 Baby Bath Gel is perfectly designed for the massage-bathtime-bedtime routine (you can use this one product for massage, cleansing and moisturizing!), and is made of natural ingredients that are ideal for baby’s skin. You can order it here.
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I try not to think of the weeks or months ahead or what “could” happen and just focus on the day at hand (kind of like when you have a newborn and you are just looking forward to the days when you can some sleep, you know it will come, but not sure when).
It’s after dinner and all the demands of the day are almost done. I get comfy on my bed, read stories and give out massages… my kids love them.
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