Infant massage is more commonly practiced in non-western areas of the world, but we are starting to see an increase of infant massage practice in the States. Infant massages has many benefits for the baby, like sleep and digestion aid. It also has many benefits for the parents, like help with attachment and confidence. It can even help mamas with postpartum depression. Infant massage is in no way harmful to baby and benefits everyone.
Infant massage can be taught to parents on a one on one basis or, more commonly, in a group class. It is usually offered in sessions, going over a different area of the body each time. These areas include: legs/feet, arms/hands, chest, tummy, head, and back. Oils can be used, but please note to use only edible oils that are cold pressed. Baby’s skin is more permeable than adults, so whatever is applied to the skin will be absorbed. Anything that is less than favorable could cause adverse side effects. It is ideal to perform massage when baby is in a quiet, alert states. Most of my clients report doing it after bath time. This is the time when baby is going to be the most perceptive to massage.
Massage and relaxation are almost synonymous. So it’s no surprise that sleep aid or soothing a fussy baby would be a benefit of infant massage. You can use the techniques before nap time or bedtime to help relax baby. It’s also a good idea to sing or talk to baby while massaging them. Babies loved to be touched and talked to. Our feet and hands have a lot of reflex points that affect the entire body. By massaging these areas you can put baby into a deep relaxation, which can aid in sleep or overall calmness.
Good digestion in babies is very important. If baby has poor digestion at any point or has colic, then baby will more than likely be very fussy and hard to soothe. Colic happens in infants up to 3 months of age, so it will subside, but there are massage techniques to aid in baby’s discomforts. These strokes are performed on the belly, and they work in the direction of food digestion. Sometimes you can feel the gas bubbles and help work them down the digestive tract. If your baby is colic, talk to your local infant massage instructor. They will give you a daily routine to help ease baby’s achy tummy.
Benefits are not just for babies, but for mommies and daddies too. It can instill confidence as a parent, and help you connect and bond to each other. Infant massage can also be a time where you read a book to them, sing or play nursery rhymes. All of these are beneficial in creating that baby-parent relationship. I always encourage both parents to massage their babies. This can be a special time for anyone to connect with baby.
Touch is so important for the babies confidence and attachment. Babies need to know that they are cared for and loved. Infant massage is a way to help with these in addition to all the benefits I mentioned above. It can be a daily routine that you and your baby look forward to. There are many resources online about the strokes and benefits. I highly encourage you to find your local instructor to get first hand information on all the great and joyous benefits.