Everyone loves a good old pamper and a having a massage is one of those cherished treatments that help us all relax and recuperate. During a massage we can let our minds wander, switch off from thinking about the long list of things we have to do. Bliss! It’s typical then that during our babies first months and years, they probably get to be on the receiving end and enjoy more massages and relaxation than we mama’s probably do!
Despite us not being the lucky one to get the massage, infant massage has wonderful benefits to us. It is a lovely bonding experience between parent and infant. It is universal too with parents and family members all over the world using it as part of night-time rituals.
Touch is an important way to promote a secure attachment with your baby and massage allows us to express our care, love and communication with respect using touch. So long as your baby has no medical conditions or was premature, you can start infant massage at a young age, allowing the interaction to help you bond and learn about each other as well as enjoying the peaceful, relaxing time together. It also has many other benefits for baby including relieving colic, aiding constipation, and helping with a good sleep routine! I would say it is worth trying just for the sleep part alone!
If you are thinking of giving your infant a massage, it’s best to ensure baby is happy and ready. You won’t want to wake baby up for a massage so consider the best time of day, you know your baby best and when they are likely to be at their happiest. It isn’t recommended that you massage a hungry or full baby so ensure you do wait at least half an hour after a feed before trying. It is also worth noting before you do start preparing to massage your baby – that if baby has recently had a fever or diarrhoea for example – it probably isn’t the right time to be trying this! Also wait at least 24 hours after baby has had their immunisations!
If you are able to go ahead and baby is happy, when it comes to preparing your massage space, there’s a few things to do first. You can use a mat on the floor, on your bed or even your lap – wherever you are both comfortable. You’ll want to make sure baby is warm and happy and it’s best not to have too many distractions around like your phone or the telly on – you’ll want to really tune in to the moment and focus on your baby. If your baby is over 4 weeks old, you can use an oil such as sunflower or coconut oil or you can do the massage over clothes – whichever suits you best. You won’t want to accidently nip your baby and cause any upset as you do the strokes, so you might want to remove any jewellery and ensure your nails are trimmed. Better to be safe than sorry! Finally, use your baby’s cues to begin – talk to them and ask if they are ready and happy for you to begin. This really helps build all important trust and communication.
Once you and baby are ready to begin, choose an area of the body to focus on – it’s best not to do a full body massage when they are so little! There are so many different strokes to choose from for each body area. Try out different ones and see how baby reacts and you’ll start to get to know what they like and what they don’t.
Let me share some of my favourite massage strokes with you;
On baby’s Chest I like to do ‘Pitter Patter raindrops’. With this one, allow your wrists to do loose and tap your fingers on and across their chest and up under their chin. At the same time sing ‘Incy Wincey Spider’. This one is a favourite, we love the relaxing strokes coupled with a fun song as well as the fact it can help open up the chest area, increasing breathing and helps release mucus on the chest.
Windy waves is fantastic at helping colic, constipation and that pesky trapped wind! Slide across the tummy with the heel of the hand and pull back gently with fingers, your left to right. It really works a treat!
I am a sucker for chubby baby thighs, I mean who isn’t?! The ‘Jelly roll’ is when you hold the thigh in both hands and gently roll your hands backwards and forwards on the sides all the way down the leg all the while singing ‘Jelly on a plate’ which goes down a treat in my house! Oh the smiles, and not just from me!
There are so many fantastic massage techniques and strokes to try with your baby. Try them out, explore what works and what doesn’t, what baby likes and doesn’t. Have fun with it, smile, sing and enjoy this wonderful bonding experience with your little one!
For more information on different techniques, get in touch with us at Happy Mama Hub. We offer an infant massage session where you will be given a handy workbook with lots of helpful information and tips!