Many recent studies have suggested that baby massage can have numerous benefits for both you and your baby. In this journal post I have done my best to break this topic down to help you and your baby get the most out of the practice of baby massage, covering various baby massage techniques, as well as its many benefits, also with links to sources where you can find more detailed information on the aspects that you’re interested in.
Benefits of Baby Massage
Benefits For Baby:
Recent studies have suggested that massaging your baby can have all sorts of benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety with skin to skin contact, to helping with daily weight gain. Skin to skin contact is known to have great benefits for bonding with your baby, helping your baby to feel safe and secure. Because of this lots of people prefer to practice baby massage with the baby lain directly on their chest. Additionally, the stimulation of blood flow across your baby’s body can help with joint mobility, coordination, good digestion, boosting the immune system, relieving the symptoms of colic and many other things. Furthermore, simply the application of baby massage oils and balms to your baby’s skin can help to soothe dry skin and eczema and improve skin texture.
Benefits For You:
As I mentioned above, skin to skin contact is excellent for bonding with your baby, but massaging your baby can have many other benefits for you too. Baby massage techniques can be an extremely relaxing practice for both you and your baby, helping you to relax when we all know that caring for a baby can be rewarding, but also stressful, at times! Additionally, the effects of baby massage in helping your baby to improve sleeping patterns can be just as beneficial for you, allowing you to get back to your regular sleeping patterns too! Baby massage can also help you to develop better communication with your baby and trust, something which will of course have its benefits for both of you.
Healthline has a wonderful guide to the benefits of baby massage here, if you would like more details.
Valley Mist Mother & Baby Range
Baby Massage Techniques
The first thing to mention is that it is always best to double check with a healthcare professional before deciding to massage your baby. Massaging your baby is generally a very safe and beneficial practice for both of you, but sometimes if your baby has underlying conditions or any specific healthcare needs then additional things need to be taken into account during the massage practice.
As mentioned above, many people prefer to place their baby directly onto their chest to increase skin to skin contact, but there are plenty of other ways to massage your baby if you prefer. The first alternative is to sit on a flat surface with the soles of your feet together and your knees flat out to each side (in yoga this is often referred to as a butterfly seat) and lie your baby down in front of you so that they head is supported by your feet. The second alternative is simply to lie your baby down on any comfortable and safe surface where it is easy for you to massage them, while also enabling you to make lots of eye contact.
Massage Oil or No Massage Oil?
Whether or not you choose to use a baby massage oil or balm is really up to you, but many prefer it as it reduces skin friction and can have benefits for your baby’s skin. However, if you do choose to use a product, make sure to try a small amount on your baby’s skin first and leave it for 24 hours to check that there is no reaction to he product. With our Pure Valley Mist baby massage oils and baby balms this should not be a problem as both are made allergen-free, but it is always best to double-check! The soothe versions of both the oil and the balm are not allergen-free, but are made with dermal-safe levels of essential oils for babies, so it is up to you which you choose to use.
When to Massage:
You can start massaging a baby whenever you feel ready to do so. If you want to start massaging your baby on day one then you can do so. However, make sure you choose a time when your baby is already calm and alert and not immediately after they have been fed. To check your baby’s response you can always begin with a simple introductory stroke from your baby’s chest down to their feet and see how they respond. If they look away, tense up or raise their arms, it might be better to try again at another time, but if they seem quite happy, you can take it as a sign to continue.
Baby massage is essentially gentle, relaxing strokes across different areas of your baby’s body. If it is the first time you are massaging your baby or you are unsure of your baby’s mood it can also be best to start with the legs because they are less sensitive and you will be able to gauge their reaction.
There is a fantastic up-to-date guide of more detailed massage techniques for each area of your baby’s body over on the ‘Parents’ website, linked here. This article excellently runs through how to massage your baby with the best benefits for both you and them.
I hope that this blog has been of use to your and your baby’s journey with baby massage!