The art of baby massage has been practiced in Indian and African cultures for thousands of years, but it’s a relatively new practice here in the UK, becoming popular in the last thirty years or so. It’s a great way of bonding with your baby, of any age – from a newborn to a toddler (as long as they aren’t too wriggly!), and advocates of baby massage believe that it can not only help your baby unwind and sleep better, but can also help with weight gain, improved circulation, to relieve the symptoms of colic and to aid teething pain. And you might just find it relaxing too.
There are loads of benefits of baby massage; here are just a few:
- Your close touch helps your baby to feel secure, loved and attached.
- It can help you bond with your baby because you are closely interacting with him and making lots of eye contact.
- Baby massage can help to reduce a baby’s fussiness, crying or colic symptoms.
- It can help relax your baby and therefore lead to more restful sleep.
- It can relax you, and allows a quiet bonding time for you and your baby.
- It’s a great way for dads to get involved and feel part of a close routine.
- Baby massage can help you, and your baby to get to know her body language, and may give you confidence that you’re getting to know your baby well.
- As you move your hands over your baby it gives a boost of oxytocin, for you, your baby and your partner. Oxytocin is the loving, mood enhancing hormone so baby massage can benefit mums suffering with post natal depression.
Put simply, baby massage is just that. Massaging your baby, from top to toe, using gentle and rythmic strokes of your hands. It’s best to use a natural/vegetable based oil for baby massage (always remember to to a patch test with a small amount of oil on your baby’s wrist to check for a reaction first). Choose a quiet time with no distractions, and ideally a time when your baby is neither too sleepy or too wide awake.
There are lots of classes that you and your baby can attend for some tips and guidance on best massage practice, and to meet other mums and their babies (ask your health visitor or midwife for details, or a quick online search should bring up local results) but it’s perfectly possible to do at home. Here’s a quick guide:
- Make sure the room is warm enough, then undress your baby (you can leave the nappy on or off, it’s up to you) and place her on a towel on the floor or bed.
- Warm some oil or cream in your hands then start by gently massaging your baby’s skin. Legs are a good place to start because babies are used to having their legs touched during nappy changes.
- Work your way up his legs, gently squeezing and massaging his calves and thighs, then rubbing the bottom of his feet and his toes or making a circular motion with your thumb.
- Place your hands flat on her chest and tummy and push gently outwards in a butterfly shape sweep, then use your thumb and fingers to make gentle circle shapes on her skin.
- Rub up and down his arms and massage his palms, then gently pull and rub each finger and thumb.
- You can massage your baby’s face by making gentle circular movements with your forefinger across her forehead, along her cheekbones and under her chin.
- Turn your baby over and repeat the same gentle sweeping motions across his back.
- Keep going for as long as your baby enjoys it, but stop if he gets fussy, irritable or unhappy. Read your baby’s cues as to what he likes or doesn’t like.
- Try to stick to a similar pattern each time you massage. Babies like to know what’s coming next.
- And don’t forget that your baby will be slippy when you pick them up!
Babi Pur stock a lovely range of light and organic baby massage oil, which is perfect for enjoying all the benefits of baby massage, for you and your baby. Choose from the Little Green Radicals organic massage oil, the gorgeous Sophie La Giraffe natural massage oil or the fragrance-free Organic Babies Oil by Green People.
And if you need some more inspiration, have a look at this lovely video from Sophie La Giraffe Baby. We think it’s just adorable!