Baby Massage: What, why and how?
We consulted Mary Flett at Hush Baby Massage to get the scoop on what Baby Massage is, why it’s beneficial and how to get started.
Regularly massaging your baby is a great way to strengthen your bond, to communicate your love to your baby, to give them more sensory stimulation and to help with their healthy development. Many studies have revealed that routine touch is essential to a baby’s growth, communication, and learning. Touch is our first language with our babies.
A gentle and loving touch can help babies grow stronger and feel less anxiety. This is why most hospitals insist that newborns are placed on the mother’s chest or abdomen to give them as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. The touch between a mother and her baby brings them emotionally close – a process known as bonding or attachment.
What is baby massage?
Baby massage is the gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body using your hands.
What are the benefits of baby massage?
- Help you and your baby understand each other better
- Soothe babies and reduce crying
- Aid digestion and help relieve colic, wind, and constipation
- Help babies to sleep more deeply and for longer
- Relieve nasal congestion and teething discomfort
- Help develop good muscle tone, co-ordination, and suppleness
- Enhance body awareness
- Boost the immune system
- Improve skin texture
- Help calm and relax both parent and baby
- Boost parents’ confidence in handling their baby
Top tips & techniques for baby massage:
- Choose a time when your baby is awake and alert, not too hungry or too full
- A nice time of day to get started is after a bath and before bed to help relax and wind down in preparation for sleep.
- Use a safe and comfortable place to do the massage and position your baby so that they can see your face clearly. Try sitting on the floor, bed or sofa, with your baby on a towel in front of you.
- Ensure the room is warm and the lighting not too bright or directly in your baby’s eyes.
- Wash your hands and remove jewellery. Use a small, pea-sized amount of baby oil and rub it into your own hands to ensure your hands aren’t dry or cold.
- Before starting, take a few deep breaths. This will help you to relax, which in turn will help your baby relax too.
- Mary at Hush said“In our Baby Massage Ireland programme (BMI) we always start the massage routine by asking permission and teach to watch the baby’s cues to see if they are happy for us to proceed. This small simple steps recognises the importance of permission and touch and helps set respectful boundaries.”
Going to a baby massage group is an ideal way to learn to massage your baby safely. As well as meeting mums with babies of a similar age, it can be really helpful to learn specific techniques from someone with a qualification in infant massage. We hope the above tips are a helpful start point for Baby Massage but for a more specific technique, we recommend a course like Hush Baby.
Mary at Hush Baby Massage says, “Baby Massage is based on a number of disciplines. For example, Indian massage for all the strokes coming down the body, which are soothing and relaxing. Strokes moving up the body are based on Swedish massage, which are great for circulation, muscle tone and weight gain. The moves we do on the feet are based on reflexology and benefit the entire body. Moves on the tummy aid digestion and help with wind, colic, and constipation. Chest moves are designed to help with body awareness and coordination as they work with the midline. Moves on the face help soothe teething discomfort, conjunctivitis and sinus issues.”