Giving your baby a massage has so many benefits, it is hard to know where to begin to share them all!
I learned about infant massage during a class at Isis Parenting when I had my first son, and we had a nightly ritual of a post-bath massage until he was 18 month old. We have even continued it to this day with a mini-back rub before he goes to sleep. I have now begun the same bonding ritual with my daughter and find it is the perfect time to connect with her after the end of a busy day. I think I am even more conscious of this daily activity since it is often hard to find one-on-one time with her; she needs to share my time and attention with her big brother!
Don’t despair if you have never done this before as it is never too late to start. But starting early and being consistent has many proven physical, mental and emotional benefits. It is more than a sense of touch and the act of cuddling. There are proven benefits with infant massage as a communication tool, and as a way to improve digestion, stimulate brain development, boost the immune system, and reduce stress. During those critical growth periods, like digestive maturing and teething, infant massage can lessen the stress. In fact, studies show that a five minute massage enhances the performance of babies and children on tasks that require attentiveness.
So what do you need to know to get started?
- While there is no time you have to stop, you should start when your baby is at least three weeks old.
- Don’t force the massage on your baby. Ask for permission using sign language or other cue.
- Wait for the right time; quiet, alert, happy. This could be before or after a nap, after waking up in the morning or before going to sleep at night.
- Don’t give a massage if your baby is sick, has a rash, just had some shots 48-72 hours prior, has eaten in the last 30 minutes, or is otherwise sad enough that the prospect of a pending massage does not lessen their crankiness.
- Lower the lights and/or play soft soft music to provide a soothing atmosphere for your baby and you. Eliminate outside distractions, like your cell phone too.
- Pick a lotion that is safe and beneficial to you and your baby.
(Giveaway rules were previously listed here. A copy can be found here.)
Images are my own and are not to be used without permission. I attended an online seminar where I learned about these products. Compensation was provided for this post, though all thoughts, content, and opinions are my own.