Hey there everyone ! What do you love to get done when your muscles are sore, you are highly stressed and want to relax and detox? Get a Massage, Right? Babies are no exception. Babies love getting soothing and relaxing massages too. There are a lot of benefits of gentle and soothing massages for newborns. It is beneficial for their tiny bodies too. The extensive benefits of baby massages makes it a crucial routine to be done for each and every child.
Is it Easy? Yes. Is it Safe? Yes.
Touch is the first of the senses to be developed in a newborn baby. Doctors ensure that the baby is placed on the mother’s chest the moment she is born. This is because the mother’s touch makes the baby feel safe and it helps amazingly in breastfeeding and generation of milk in the mother.
When can you start massaging the baby? I started massaging my little one in the third week after he was born. One the baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off, you can start massaging your baby gently in the beginning as the skin will be sensitive. Slowly you can start increasing the pressure lightly as the baby likes.
In India there are many beautiful ways of massaging a child. You can see variations of oil massage all over India. The massaging technique used in India is done with mostly Coconut Oil (specially made by grandmothers with lots of love and care for the grandchildren. It is blended with herbs that are beneficial for the child’s growth). It is a good idea to use moisturizer or any medium for lubrication as it avoids friction against the baby’s skin. Use the medium on a small patch before you use it on the whole body.
Let’s discuss what are these benefits of baby massages that make it so crucial. It is a known fact that massages are very important for premature babies. It helps them grow healthy and gain weight. But babies who are born full term also benefit from baby massages.
Baby Massage Benefits
Regular baby massage benefits with digestion, constipation and colic
Massage involves rubbing the stomach area of the baby in a clockwise direction with light pressure. This helps reduce ailments like colic, constipation, gas and other digestion related troubles in babies. Many babies who have colic tend to calm down a little if they are given soft massages at regular intervals.
Tangible benefits of baby massage – Improves skin texture
When you massage a a newborn baby with oil or moisturizer on a regular basis, the skin becomes soft and smooth. The oil helps keep the sensitive skin hydrated and nourished. In South India, coconut oil is the best homemade oil used for massages ( both for babies and elders as well). When a baby is massaged everyday with oil medium, there is no need for moisturizer as the oil keeps the skin moist and hydrated.
Infant massage improves muscle tones and strengthen bones
Massaging a baby regularly increases the blood flow to the entire body, loosens the muscles and tendons in the body. This improves the baby’s muscle tone. Regular oil massages also strengthens the baby bones. All the baby massage benefits are related.
Most Helpful Baby Massage Benefits – It helps them sleep better and improve alertness.
As we saw above, baby massage helps relax the muscles and blood circulation. This helps in relaxing the baby and hence helps them sleep better. The improved blood circulation also helps in improving alertness in the baby. Improving alertness means the baby will be more alert when he is awake. Consequently grasping a lot from the environment he is in. Learning, observing and growing in the first year requires the baby to be alert when he is awake.
We used to give massages and hot water baths to our baby in the morning sometime before the first nap of the day, when my little one would be in a playful mood. This massage and hot water bath (temperature tested) would help him sleep for three to four hours. This was because he got his dose of physical touch, hot water soothed the whole body and relaxed his muscles. He would feed and would sleep peacefully.
One of the best baby massage benefits is it boosts Immunity
Infant massage stimulates the lymph nodes in the body. Lymph nodes play an important role in the defense system of the body, i.e. immunity. While massaging these lymph nodes, we help boost the baby’s immunity.
Check our best article on “How to boost immunity in children?”
Helps develop a bond, skin to skin – special time and communication that fosters love
Skin to skin contact between parent and baby has amazing effects on the baby’s growth and development. Skin to skin touch helps in physical as well as psychological development of the baby. Taking special time and massaging the baby helps you develop a bond of love and care for the baby. Touch and communication are the basis of the baby’s world in the first year. Babies who get massages regularly from their primary caregivers tend to calm down sooner by physical touch than the babies who have not been massaged regularly. As they grow, physical touch from parents helps them understand that they are not alone.
So make time everyday for this special routine between you and your baby to nurture your baby in the best way available.
Check out our article on “Best Ways to Nurture a Newborn Baby”.
Massaging a baby soothes him and keeps him calm
Babies also have a lot of stress and tension in their body. Stress hormones are also present in babies which makes them cry and become fussy. Picking them up or any kind of skin to skin touch helps them soothe themselves. The best benefits of baby massage is that it helps calm the baby with the mother’s or father’s physical touch and release the stress from their body too at the same time.
Boosts growth and helps in ideal weight gain – Most Sought Baby Massage Benefits
Massaging a baby regularly helps boost overall growth and increase baby weight in a healthy way.
Beneficial for sensory development in babies
When massaging a baby, the baby notices the touch and feeling everywhere in their body. They can feel their hands when we are massaging the hands. Consequently, it is a great baby massage benefit as it creates awareness of body parts being massaged. This awareness boosts sensory development.
You can keep talking to the baby, describe each body part you are massaging. Talk about ten little fingers, ten little toes, the cute button nose. This helps in the brain development of the infant.
See how talking to the baby plays a very important role in the language development in the article here. “Why is it important to talk to the baby?”
Helps enhance movements in baby
As we saw the above baby massage benefits, massage improves blood circulation, loosens the muscles and tendons, improves alertness etc. Regular massage enhances the baby’s movements and physical health. This causes a range of increase in baby’s movements and motions.
Tips to have a relaxing baby massage and to obtain best baby massage benefits
Timing is Crucial
The timing should suit you and the baby. Sometimes babies will be either under stimulated or overstimulated, hungry or sleepy. Pick the right time for the baby when he or she is alert and awake, well fed. Only the baby’s mood is not important, yours is important too. Massage is a special time you spend with your child. It is a communication and bonding session with all the skin to skin. So make sure you are happy and cheerful, rested and relaxed. This helps you both reap the best baby massage benefits.
Set the mood for massage
While massaging the baby, it is a great idea to keep the temperature right, where it should not be too hot or too cold. Light scented candles that relax your baby and you. You can even put on some music you and your baby like. This ensures you also benefit from the baby massage as a soothing and calming activity that creates a bond.
Make sure to use a massaging medium
Using baby oil or baby creams and moisturizers is the best idea while massaging. It keeps the baby skin well lubricated and protects the sensitive skin.
Try different massage techniques
It is important that your baby likes this massaging routine. A baby who is crying during the massage means he does not like something. Try to change a few techniques, oils or pressure to the baby’s liking. See if the baby likes massages with light pressure. You should check if your baby likes being massaged on the bed or on your legs. There are many massaging techniques to choose from. Choose whatever suits your baby and continue it regularly to get the benefits of baby massage.
Take your cues from the babies
Is your baby in the mood of getting a massage? Do you like to get massaged when you are not in the mood? How do you know if the baby is not interested? He or she will either cry, squirm away from you or look away from you. Look at the signs given by your baby when you are massaging and let them take the lead.
It is okay if on some days you do not or cannot massage your baby. A little something is better than nothing at all. Another aspect is it is not necessary that only mom massages the baby. Father’s have the magic touch too. It has positive benefits of baby massaging too. Massages by father tend to enhance the bond between dad and the child. Fathers also find it soothing when they take care of the child, massage their child. They feel that they take up equal responsibility. It helps ensure that fathers do not feel left out. It helps boost self esteem, happiness and relaxation as connecting with the baby through touch.