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Baby Massage: Why to Give It & Benefits for Your Child

After you have brought your newborn home from the hospital, there are a lot of things to learn. Every parent needs to learn the basic routines to take care of their child starting from feeding and rules to dress a newborn to arranging a healthy environment in the nursery to choosing a proper washer detergent for babies. Among the other routines, parents should consider learning the basics of newborn baby massage that is a great ritual both parents and children love.

Have you noticed how much your little one loves being cuddled and held in hands? The warmth of a parent is soothing a newborn the environment of which has recently changed so dramatically. Pediatricians even call the first three months after the birth of a child the fourth trimester. During this time, a newborn requires contact with a mom. That is why massaging softly the skin of a newborn will have a soothing effect, reduce fussiness of a newborn, and help get rid of colics and constipation that are the most frequent reasons for sleepless days and nights.

belly massage for baby

Opinion of a Specialist on Massage

According to the director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, Tiffany Field, Ph.D., massaging helps stimulate the nervous system of a baby setting off a chain reaction. Due to this stimulation, the newborn brain produces more serotonin and less cortisol leading to the heart rate slowing down. As a result, the child’s breathing is slowing down relaxing a newborn.

Aside from the physical impact on the body of a newborn, it is important to remember the emotional and psychological aspects. Giving massage to a child helps mom and dad bond with their baby. First, a little one can recognize parents from the very first days. The physical contact with the closest people in their lives helps a baby stay more confident in this unknown strange world, while parents learn to understand the body signals of a new family member. As a result, the interaction between a newborn and parents is improving as they know better the needs of their little child and react accordingly.

Should Only Newborns Be Massaged?

When a child grows, colics do not disturb them anymore and kids are not in such a need for permanent contact with parents? Some parents will naturally wonder if massaging will be still necessary. Until your baby learns to walk, doing certain gymnastic exercises and massage will help your infant develop muscles and bones. Due to this, you will stimulate the blood circulation and even help your child release some energy to ensure they are asleep for the whole night. If you are used to giving a massage in the evening before going to bathe and bed, this is a ritual that will help your little one understand that the day is almost over and it is time to relax and get ready for going to bed.

Later, when your child grows up and masters walking, running, jumping, and climbing, as well as plenty of indoor activities for kids, massage is a great way to help the muscles of an active toddler to relax. Compare the active moves of your baby to the training of sportspeople. That is why toddler massage is something you should not ignore. After all, think about how much adults love the process of being massaged. If a dad loves giving mom a massage and vice versa, keeping this ritual for your baby will be beneficial from the physical, psychological, and emotional points of view.

When to Start Baby Massage

While the benefits of infant massage are clear, it is still necessary not to begin it before the first visit of the pediatrician. As soon as the doctor has checked on your little one, ask if it is ok to start massages. The doctor can show you some basic moves to start with so, ask your pediatrician if you have got doubts.

In general, if your newborn is healthy and there are no medical restrictions, you can begin massages from the first weeks. There are plenty of video tutorials on how to give a massage to newborns, which gymnastics is allowed, as well as on the moves to make in the bath to ensure the full relaxation of a child.

Additional tip: children may react to massages and bathing differently. In the majority of cases, these routines help them get rid of discomfort and stress and, as a result, they are relaxed and sleepy. Rarely, however, it happens, children become overexcited, and going to bed is the last thing they would like to do after massage and bathing. In this case, massage can become a part of a morning routine when you wake up. That is why the part o the day when to start baby massage will depend on the reaction of your little one to this process.

Getting Ready

Newborn baby massage is a ritual, for this reason, try doing it in the same sequence with the other routines, preferably at the same time daily. Here are some more tips on how to prepare for kid massages:

  • Create the atmosphere: In the morning — open the curtains and let the room be light and filled with light, in the evening — subdued lighting and relaxing music.
  • The air should be fresh and chilly in the nursery room: You are going to undress your newborn. But don’t be afraid that she will be cold. Massage improves the blood circulation, this won’t happen.
  • Take off the jewelry from your fingers and hands.
  • Prepare babies massage oil so that not to distract when you need to find it.
  • Lay a towel and baby neck support pillow if it is convenient for you to use it.

That’s it. As for the timing, the first massage should be short, just a couple of minutes to check how your baby will react to it. Then, you can gradually increase the session time up to 15 minutes.

Types, Sequence & Benefits of Infant Massage

How to massage a newborn? Where to begin? These are the most frequent questions from parents. We suggest you some basic recommendations that will help you:

  1. Choose the time when your baby is relaxed;
  2. Be relaxed as well, if you are too tired or stressed, postpone massage for the next day.
  3. Undress your child.
  4. If you a newborn swaddle set, let her lay for a while before you begin massaging.
  5. Begin with soft stroking.
  6. Massage should be started with toes and feet, then move upwards.

Leg Massage

Begin with the foot by rubbing it with your thumbs, as well as every toe, for approximately two minutes, and repeat on the other foot. Then, wrap your hands around the ankle of your baby and gently glide up to the thigh and then vice versa. After several cycles, repeat the same with the other leg.

leg baby massage

Belly Massage

Place your hands on the belly in the area of the navel. Gently massage it in the clockwise direction. Your motions should be circular. Repeat for a couple of times. This is a useful technique that can help you eliminate pains caused by newborn colics.

Besides, if you have noticed that your little one experiences other troubles with the tummy, resort to baby constipation massage of the belly including soft hip flexion by holding ankles. Bend carefully the knees and hold them for around 20 seconds and release. This can be repeated for 5-7 times until you notice that your baby feels better.

Arms

The moves are alike to the ones you make while rolling legs. Wrap your hands around the arm and gently roll down to the wrist. These moves should be repeated for three times and then repeat the same on the other arm. Pay particular attention to hands and gently rub every finger and palms with your thumbs.

arms baby massage

Neck

Support the head of your newborn or use a special pillow. Gently place the thumb on the side of the neck and two fingers — on the other side. Gently rub the neck in a circular motion repeating the moves several times.

Back

As soon as your baby learns to hold the head for some time, include the massage of the back in the routine. Turn your infant on the belly and gently rub the neck with your fingers beginning with shoulders going down to the baby’s bottom. Lying on the belly is itself a very useful exercise for your baby as it helps develop the muscles of the neck, tummy, back, and others. Your child will learn to hold the head while the development of belly muscles will help get rid of colics quicker.

Other Techniques

Above, we have described basic moves you could make to massage your newborn. If you are interested, it is possible to make an appointment or invite a professional massage therapist who can teach you new techniques on practice.

There is one more beneficial approach, i.e., skin-to-skin contact. It is good for every newborn who is seeking contact with mommy. This is especially useful to babies who have been born prematurely and those who suffer from colics and cannot be helped with massage. Place your baby on the bare chest ensuring the contact of the skin between the newborn tummy and your stomach. This will help calm down your baby and create a feeling of security and confidence for your baby. This is so-called kangaroo care.

When it is impossible to ensure the contact of skins, even carrying your baby in a sling can help her calm down and feel better. That is why lots of parents have already understood the benefits of slings and other carriers in the first months after the birth of their child.

Choosing Babies Massage Oil

First of all, let us figure out if it is necessary to use newborn massage oil. It is necessary to pay attention to the skin of a newborn. If it is dry, then the answer is undeniably positive. Rarely, the skin of a newborn can be sweaty, this is the sign that the thermal regulation is not yet in order. This is the reason for asking the pediatrician, as well as for refusing from oil for some time.

Additional tip: if the skin of a baby is not dry and you can handle massaging without it, you can still add a couple of oil drops in the bath. In such a way, you won’t apply a layer of oil on the skin that can prevent it from breathing, while the skin will be softened due to the impact of the warm oiled water.

In general, the benefits of baby oil for the dry baby skin are obvious: it soothes dry skin of a newborn, makes it smooth, as well as helps make the move during massaging soft and gentle. If you are looking for a perfect newborn oil, always pay attention to the content making sure that no allergens and chemicals are not included. Before the first use, apply it to your skin. If there are no irritations and reactions, try on a small area of the skin of your baby. If everything is ok, only then use this oil for massaging.

Final Words

When it comes to massaging babies, newborns, and even preschoolers, this is not only beneficial for the healthy development of their bodies but also useful for bonding with parents. If your partner spends all day long in the office, suggest that he/she massages your newborn in the evening to ensure some mutual pastime.

Every baby needs attention and contact with parents, and massage is a great way to provide a newborn with this feeling. Moves and techniques are easy and require no preparation. That is why every parent can handle it. Make use of this great possibility to bond with your baby and help her relax.

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