According to the International Association of Infant Massage, there is both research and anecdotal evidence from families, which shows that there are many ways that babies and parents may benefit from baby massage.
Relaxation & Constipation
The relaxation benefits are well known – from assisting with sleep patterns, increased flexibility and muscle tone to calming and reduction of stress, but what may be lesser known is that massage may assist in the relief of gas and colic, constipation, growing pains, teething and muscular cramps.
Infant massage may also stimulate baby’s circulatory and digestive systems, hormonal and immune systems, coordination and balance, learning and concentration, muscular development and growth and even their mind and body awareness – so you may find it an important part of maintaining your baby’s total wellbeing.
Communication & Confidence
In addition to the physical benefits for the baby, interaction between parent and child during massage may promote bonding and secure attachment, verbal/non-verbal communication, development of trust and confidence, and feelings of love and being valued - for both parties! This can be a particularly special time for dads that are away at work all day or an intimate “time-out” for first-time mums struggling to adjust to the huge demands of 24/7 parenting.
How to choose a baby massage oil:
Your midwife, maternal health nurse or medical professional can advise you on the best oil to use for your baby but definitely avoid using oils which are meant for adult use or adult massage – they are not suitable for babies. Choose an oil which is free from petrochemicals, mineral oil, and artificial fragrances or heavy scents. A natural edible plant-based oil, as recommended by the Infant Massage Association, is best.
Mums who prefer not to use an oil may like to choose a baby moisturiser as a massage lotion instead. The moisturising properties of Shea butter, cocoa butter combined with nourishing organic oils make a lovely non-greasy alternative.
Of course, if an irritation occurs, stop using any product immediately and consult your medical professional.
Other tips on getting started with baby massage:
You don’t have to be an expert in baby massage. You and your baby can benefit simply by setting up the scene and using gentle touch, such as massaging moisturiser or massage oil into your baby’s arms, body and legs, then turn them over onto their tummy and massage your moisturiser or oil into their back. Perhaps after baby’s bath.
Another great time to offer infant massage is as part of baby’s bedtime routine. After a warm bath with a moisturising soap-free wash (ideally one with calming oils like lavender, chamomile or ylang ylang), pop on some soothing music and spend a few minutes gently massaging your oil or moisturiser into their skin while telling a bedtime story and slowly getting them dressed. This routine often helps them relax and prepare for a peaceful night’s sleep!
About the Author:
Michelle Vogrinec is a mother of three and creator of GAIA Natural Baby. An avid researcher with an interest in preventative health and sustainable living, she is passionate about the environment, complementary medicine and growing fresh, organic fruit and veggies to support her family in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Michelle aspires to empower others to follow their dreams, achieve their goals and live the life they desire.