There is no better way to bond with a newborn than giving them daily massage. Giving their bodies a baby massage of gentle strokes which are rhythmic is absolutely amazing. It calms and soothes them while ensuring that they develop important motor skills. But how can you effectively massage your little tot?
Massaging Tips and Tricks
Before you begin the massaging process, it’s important to have a setup. First, prepare a bed or table that’s covered with a soft towel. This is where the baby will be placed. The room temperature needs to be comfortable. In addition to those, lighting is important and try to use a natural source of light as possible. A massage oil is also essential and unscented oils which have no added perfumes are the best.
Start with the Legs
This is usually the best part to begin massaging. Drop some oil in your palm and then massage the baby’s soles. Use thumbs to stroke the heels and toes. You can make gentle strokes from the soles to the ankles, up to the thigh. This helps to stimulate the nerve endings and the baby will feel relaxed and calm. When you are doing leg massage, use circular strokes.
Move to the Arms
We are progressing upwards. The arms are usually massaged like legs using circular strokes. Massage the palm of their hands, fingers, and the wrist. Don’t forget the back of the arm as you move upwards towards the forearm.
Chest and Shoulder
At this point, you need to make gentle strokes which are in tandem from the right and left going towards the baby’s shoulders. After a couple of strokes, massage the baby’s chest using both your hands and rub that part as you move outwards going to the lateral side. You can also trace a heart shape as you move towards the chest bone from the sternum.
It’s Time for the Tummy Massage!
Babies love this! But this is a delicate part and you must, therefore, use minimal pressure. Always start from the top section of the tummy and use gentle strokes as you move across this area. Make clockwise circular motions while avoiding the sensitive belly button.
Next, Head and Face
This is a challenging part because most babies usually move a lot. First, use your index finger to stroke the baby’s forehead and then stroke the outline of his or her face moving towards the chin. Thereafter move towards the cheeks and give them a few gentle strokes. Once you have finished, move to the scalp and apply gentle pressure because the baby’s skull is very delicate.
Note: when you are giving your baby a head massage, place your hands on both sides of their head and run them downwards towards the body.
Finish with the Back!
Turn the baby and stretch his/her hands and legs out. The legs should go backward and hands forward and not sideways. Placing your oiled fingertips on the upper back, trace gentle clockwise motion towards his/her bottom.
Note: avoid placing your fingers on the spine but you can apply gentle pressure on the spinal grooves.
Benefits of Baby Massage
Giving your baby massage has a lot of natural benefits and they include:
• Relaxing the muscles: this process has a calming effect and it soothes the body and relieves stress. Massaging enhances the production of the feel-good oxytocin hormone. It relaxes the muscles and promotes their growth. It’s also perfect for babies who have colic.
• Enhancing social and psychological development: a massage stimulates the sense of touch. This is important for both social and psychological development. It also enhances the bond between the parent and the baby.
• Promoting better sleep: babies who are normally massaged before their bedtime normally end up getting quality sleep. This is because the massage helps to stimulate sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.
• Enhancing the functions of the nervous system: this process helps to stimulate and enhance the development of motor skills which are important for coordination.
• Improving the circulatory system: massaging helps to improve blood circulation. Besides that, it decreases congestion, stomach acidity, gassing, and discomfort that’s caused by teething.
Final Thoughts On Baby Massage
Massaging isn’t just about the baby only. Most new moms are usually at a greater risk of developing post-natal depression. This process is about the baby’s development as well as bonding. Research shows that when depressed moms massaged their babies, they ended up with improved moods. Additionally, fathers who massaged their babies regularly ended up with better self-esteem. If you have a newborn, always give them a full body massage, it’s good for both of you.