Baby Massage and Benefits

Submitted by shopie on May 15, 2013

The Benefits of baby massages

If you have ever been through a massage, you will agree with the fact that it is one of the best ways to get your mind and body to relax. But were you aware that massages can be very relaxing and beneficial for your baby too?


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In fact, in many countries like India and Africa, frequent baby massages are an integral part of the baby care routine. Fortunately, baby massages have been gaining popularity in western cultures, including the US, since the 1990s.

What is a baby massage?

A baby massage can be described a mild and gentle rubbing of various parts of your baby’s body, especially the arms, legs, back, feet, hands, chin, fingers and toes.

While massaging your infant, you can also move his limbs in a specific way, to help your baby stretch out a bit.

Many baby experts claim that massages help strengthen the bond between the baby and parents. However, since your little one is still quite small and delicate, it is important that you use the right infant massage techniques.

Baby massage techniques

Massaging an adult is completely different from massaging a baby. Many first-time parents undergo training on baby massage for beginners. However, bear in mind that someone who has never given anyone a massage before could do an exceptional job while massaging her little one, as long as she uses the right technique. Given below are some of the techniques that should be used gently while massaging a baby –

  • Rubbing
  • Kneading
  • Stroking
  • Cupping
  • Hand over hand

Your little one’s skin is so soft and sensitive, even the slightest friction could cause him discomfort. Therefore, it is important for you to use the right amount of baby massage oil. Some experts recommend almond oil or olive oil for massaging babies. Sometimes, even baby oil of the best brand can cause your little one to break out into a rash. Therefore, you may want to apply a few dabs of oil on a small area of his skin, just to check for reactions.

Ways of massaging a baby

The Simple Body Massage

This is the most effective way to start baby massage for beginners. To follow this technique, you need to –

  • Make your baby lie down on his back and place a blanket or a towel underneath him.
  • Apply a small amount of baby oil on to your palms and spread it on to your little one’s chest.
  • Start rubbing the upper part of your baby’s chest with your fingers in a gentle, circling motion. Use a medium amount of pressure, so that the baby enjoys the feeling
  • Gradually move towards the lower chest area

If you baby has the tendency to resist massages, he or she may do so at this time. Make sure that you do not apply too much pressure during the massage. At the same time, being too gentle may result in the baby feeling ticklish.

The Back Massage

Once your baby shows signs of enjoying the chest massage, it may be time to treat the back.

  • Make your baby lie down on his chest, with a towel or a blanket below his/her tummy
  • Apply some baby oil on to your palms
  • Start rubbing your baby’s buttocks with the heel of your palm and work your way up to the small of his back.
  • Gradually move towards the upper back area
The Head Massage

You need to be very careful while massaging your baby’s head, as it is one of the most delicate parts of his body.

  • Make your baby lie down, but hold the head with both of your hands
  • Apply a small amount of oil on to your palms and gently rub your baby’s scalp, using only your fingertips
  • Use your thumb and forefinger to massage behind your baby’s ears
  • Once that is done, make sure you massage the forehead, followed by the cheeks and the bridge of the nose for about a minute or two.

Baby Massage Tips

There are many ways in which you can enhance your baby’s overall experience. Given below are a few baby massage tips that you can follow to optimize the benefits of this practice –

  • Choosing the right time of the day: Before you start massaging your baby, observe his behavior for a day or two. Make sure that your baby is not generally fussy at the time you plan to give him his first massage. For best results, massage your baby in the morning and then give him a bath around 20 to 30 minutes later. This will cause your little one to feel pleasantly tired and he will then sleep like a… baby!
  • Setting the right temperature: Since your baby is going to be naked during the massage make sure that the room is not too cold. At the same time, if it is too hot, your baby will perspire and probably feel uncomfortable anyway. Try to ensure that the room is on the warmer side, so that your baby can relax. Also make sure that your hands are not too cold when you start the massage.
  • Using props: In addition to mats, towels and blankets you could also use some toys to distract your baby, that is, until he gets used to the massages and starts enjoying them. Another tip is to play some soothing music during the session, if that is what your baby seems to enjoy.
  • Staying calm: Your baby becomes more sensitive towards your moods during the massage sessions. If you are tense for some reason, your baby will pick up on it and will react by crying. Therefore, make sure that you are in a good and relaxed mood before you start the massage.
  • Timing: Bear in mind that babies have no patience and this also applies to activities that they enjoy. Therefore, the massage should go on for around 20 minutes or so. If the massage session is too short, it will not be effective enough and if it is too long, your baby will get irritable.

Benefits of a baby massage

There are several different advantages that have been associated with regular baby massages. One complex advantage of baby massages is the increased interaction levels between the mother and the baby.

A few benefits of a baby massage
  • Boosting immunity
  • Enhancing brain development
  • Improving circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body
  • Promoting better sleeping and breathing patterns
  • Reducing the risks of constipation, diarrhea and colic diseases
  • Relieving stress
  • Stimulating growth-promoting hormones

Though massages are generally good for babies and infants, it is best for you to consult a pediatrician before you begin massaging your little one. If your baby shows signs of distress during a session, it may be best to discontinue massages, till a doctor checks him.

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