Giving a massage to your baby is a great way to bond with them through touch. Infants can immensely benefit from the skin-to-skin contact through cuddles, kisses, and massage. Out of the three, massage has a calming effect on your baby. Be it to relieve gas or help them sleep better, your baby will absolutely love the massage sessions.
Right Time To Start
Parents must wait for at least a month after their baby’s birth before giving them a massage. Your baby’s skin is more sensitive at birth. Wait until they are 6 weeks old—by that time, your baby also loses the stump of their umbilical cord, which could otherwise cause infection if the massage oil gets trapped in the unhealed navel.
Steps For Massaging Your Baby
1. Find A Comfortable Place
Pick a place which is warm and comfortable—in summers, choose a room that is cool and well ventilated. Keep your baby on the bed or on the soft floor over a towel. Play soft music in the background or sing to your baby while giving massage.
2. Choose The Right Massage Oil
Avoid scented oils that could cause skin irritation or allergies. Use edible oils that are gentle on your baby’s skin like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and grape seed oil—you don’t have to worry if your baby sucks on their hands or fingers during massage.
3. Always Be Gentle
Never apply too much pressure while giving a massage to your baby. Avoid the genitals and groin region.
4. Know Whether Your Baby Is Ready
Your baby may not necessarily be interested to have a massage. If he/she cries, resists, or gets fussy, save the session for later. Sometimes, rubbing of the legs and arms is enough for them—it doesn’t always need to be a full-body massage.
They may take some time to get accustomed to massage as it is something new for them—follow your baby’s cues.
5. Develop A Routine
Fix a time for the massage—this helps to create a routine so that your baby expects it and feels comfortable. Don’t choose a time between the chores while you are cooking or washing clothes. This is a bonding time for you and your baby—keep it separate from all other tasks.
How To Massage Your Baby
Here are some tips on how to give massage to your little one in the right manner.
Legs And Feet
Rub some oil on your hand and start by massaging your baby feet. Massage the soles in circles and toes with your thumb. Don’t pull the toes like in adult massage—gently massage each toe till the tip.
Gently stroke the ankle and slowly move from foot towards the thigh. Give a gentle squeeze to the legs and reverse the motion from thigh to foot. Massage the other leg in a similar way.
Hands And Arms
Hand and arm massage can be stroked the same way. Massage the palm and the back of the hand in circular motion—stroke the fingers up to the tip. Slowly move towards the forearm—continue in gentle circular motion while stroking from the forearm to upper arm.
Chest And Shoulder
Keep your hands at the center of your baby’s chest and massage outwards towards the shoulder. You could also massage inward from the left and right shoulder towards the chest. Gently move your hands across the chest in a circular motion.
Be gentle and don’t apply any pressure on your baby’s tummy. Since it is a delicate area, massage only with your fingers, stroking in the clockwise direction as you go down from chest to the abdomen. Avoid rubbing the belly button area as it might be sensitive.
Head And Face
Start by keeping your index finger on your baby’s forehead and gently stroke along the line of their face, from the forehead to the chin. Massage the cheeks in a circular motion like you are applying cream over their face. Stroke your fingers outward from the center of the forehead.
For massaging the head, keep your fingers light and avoid applying pressure to your baby head. Run your fingers over the head as if shampooing their scalp.
Place your baby on their tummy—keep their hands in front and not on the sides. Massage their back from side to side, then in the clockwise direction. Move your fingers down the spine till the buttocks. Avoid placing your fingers on the spine, keep them on either side of the spine.
Give a gentle massage to the shoulder blades in the clockwise direction.
Your baby will enjoy the massage session provided you make it relaxing and fun rather than forceful and necessary. Have a happy bonding time with your baby.