How do you massage your baby? What are the benefits of baby massage?

Baby massages are recommended by many doctors because of its various benefits. With every gentle touch of you, your baby will feel sucked and loved, strengthening the bond between the two of you. Massaging also allows your baby to feel more relaxed, which may improve his sleep at night.

Some research indicates that massaging a baby may promote healthy growth, so in this article we explain the different benefits and techniques of massage. We will teach you everything you need to know about baby massage.

Massage promotes bonding

  • Baby massages are a great way to bring your baby closer. Confidence and communication develop as you interact with your child.
  • A gentle, loving calm touch that will make your baby feel loved and safe. Your baby will also feel comfortable during the massage.
  • Reports and research indicate that this relaxation may help improve their sleep.

When to start a baby massage?

The International Association of Baby Massage ( IAIM) notes that parents should touch the baby as soon as he or she is born. Many moms and dads love to do this by placing their baby on their chest, in what is known as the skin-to-skin care or kangaroo method.

  • After the first few weeks of birth, you can start massaging your baby.
  • But it is best to check your child’s mood first. Your baby should be calm when you are ready for the massage.
  • Never use any massage technique that makes your baby uncomfortable.
  • According to the Mayo Clinic, she suggests waiting at least 45 minutes after feeding.
  • Avoid massaging the baby too soon after eating as it can cause vomiting.

How often can you massage your baby daily?

  • How often you massage your baby will depend on you and your baby.
  • Some parents massage their children daily.
  • You can massage your baby during the morning to enjoy the day or at night before bed to help calm your baby to sleep.
  • Pay attention to your baby’s cues to help determine the best massage routine.
  • You can consult your doctor before the massage to get the necessary medical advice.

The best time to massage your baby

  • The best time to massage a baby is when he is calm and relaxed.
  • Choose a time when the child is less likely to get hungry or feel hungry. You can wait 45 minutes after the feeding time.
  • Wait 15 minutes after the massage before feeding again to give the baby’s body some time to fully relax.
  • Massaging the baby before bathing is ideal as you can wash off the oil in the shower to prevent the build-up of residual oils on the baby’s delicate skin.
  • You can choose to massage your baby after bathing, too.
  • You can massage the baby at night to ensure your baby has a peaceful night and a restful sleep.

Benefits of baby massage

If your baby has any health issues, you should talk to your doctor first to decide whether or not you should massage your baby.

Massage provides many natural benefits for the baby, such as:

  1. Relieves tension and relaxes muscles:
    • Massage relieves stress in children by stimulating the release of oxytocin (the love hormone) and reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
    • Relaxes muscles, stimulates their growth, and even helps wonderfully with colic babies.
  2. Stimulates the nervous system:
    • Massage is beneficial for the child’s nervous system because it greatly improves the development of the child’s motor skills.
    • Massage improves the immune response of the child.
  3. Helps the baby sleep better:
    • Babies sleep better when massaged.
    • Babies who are massaged just before bedtime, make more melatonin (a sleep-regulating hormone).
  4. It may improve the quality of life for infants of different abilities:
    • Massage may be a way to calm children with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy.
    • Premature babies (babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) show better movement development when massaged regularly. They even gain weight faster than premature babies who are never massaged.
  5. It can help improve blood circulation:
    • Massage improves blood circulation and also reduces the level of discomfort caused by gas, acidity or teething.
    • Massage stimulates the nerves that run through the digestive system, which benefits the digestive system.
  6. How to deal with postpartum depression:
    • Massage is an effective way to deal with postpartum depression among mothers.
    • Depressed mothers showed improved mood and behavior when they massaged their babies regularly.
    • Research has also shown that parents who massage their babies regularly develop their self-confidence.
    • Massage helps to take care of the baby, which helps in treating depression.
  7. Promotes psychological and social development:
    • According to a 2012 report in the Asian Nursing Research Journal, stimulating a baby’s sense of touch has a positive effect on a child’s psychosocial development as well as strengthening the baby’s bond with parents.

How to massage a baby?

There are no specific guidelines regarding the steps of the massage. But before you start the process of massaging the baby, you need to prepare various things.

1- Preparing for the massage:

  • Sit on a bed covered with a cotton sheet, which is fluffy for your baby’s skin. You can also place a towel on a table to massage your baby while standing. The towel helps absorb the excess oil.
  • Maintain a comfortable room temperature.
    • During the winter, make sure the room is warm.
    • During the summer, make sure that there is ample circulation of fresh, cool air in the room. Babies feel warm quickly.
  • The lighting in the room is important and it is preferable to use as much natural light as possible.
  • Choose a massage oil specially formulated for babies. Choose unscented oils with natural scents.
  • You can choose to massage your baby with or without the nappy, but you can ease it when massaging his tummy.

2- Steps of the massage:

You should talk to your baby calmly with the massage. You can sing a relaxing song or tell a story to your child.

1- Request permission

  • The first step is to get permission for your child because you don’t want to give them a massage when they are tired.
  • The simple way to do this is to take some oil in the palm of your hand and rub it gently on the baby’s stomach and behind the ears, and observe his body language.
  • If baby is pushing against you and crying when massaged, this may not be the time.
  • At first, your baby may seem uncomfortable with a massage because it is a new experience, but when they get used to it, he enjoys a lot.

2- Legs massage

  1. Start with the baby’s feet and start massaging the baby’s soles. Massage the heel up to the toes with your thumbs.
  2. Slowly make circles with your thumb at the bottom of each foot, then onto the toes.
  3. Do not pull any toe but give a light massage in each toe, this will help stimulate the nerve endings.
  4. Raise one leg then gently massage slowly toward the thighs.
  5. You can also massage both legs once if your baby is calm and comfortable.

3- Moving to the arms

  1. The arms massage pattern is exactly the same as the legs.
  2. Hold the child’s hands and slowly make small strokes on the child’s fingers, toward the fingertips.
  3. Try to gently massage the back of the hand toward the wrist.
  4. Then gently massage the wrists in a circular motion, like wearing a wristband.
  5. Slowly massage toward the forearm, then toward the upper arm.
  6. Massage the entire arm in gentle, circular motions.

4- Chest and shoulder massage

  1. You can massage the shoulder from the top and then go down for a gentle chest massage.
  2. It is preferable to massage the chest in the form of heart-like movements.

5- Abdominal massage

  1. Next comes the baby’s stomach.
  2. Remember this is a sensitive area, thus you should avoid even the slightest stress.
  3. Gently place the palm of your hand below the breastbone and massage in circular motions clockwise on the abdomen. Do not apply any pressure and let your hand slide gently across the abdomen.
  4. In young children, the navel should be avoided, especially if the navel is not located.

6- Face and head massage

  1. Massaging the face and head can be difficult because babies tend to move a lot.
  2. Start by placing the tip of your index finger in the center of your baby’s forehead and slowly massaging the face toward the chin, gently massaging the cheeks in circular motions.
  3. After massaging the face, start massaging the scalp with your finger as if you were washing the baby’s hair.
  4. Use gentle pressure from your fingertips and do not apply any extra pressure because the baby’s skull is delicate.
  5. You can even gently massage his forehead by moving your fingers outward from the center of the forehead.

7- Noon

  1. The last step is to turn your baby over and massage the back. Lay your baby flat on the stomach with his hands in the front, not on the sides.
  2. Place your index and middle fingers on either side of the upper spine and move the fingers very gently up to the buttocks.
  3. Do not place your fingers on the spine. You can place two fingers on either side of the spine.

Medical conditions for which massage is beneficial for your child

There are some medical conditions in which massage helps the child to get relief. We show you how you can massage in these cases.

1- Constipation, flatulence, and stomach ache:

Research has proven that infant massage can work wonderfully in relieving symptoms of colic in babies.

  • Start by laying the baby on its back. Use your fingers and trace a straight line on the right side of the navel.
  • Place your fingers in the upper left corner of the abdomen and make an L with your movements.
  • Then place your fingers in the lower left corner of the abdomen and shape a U around the navel towards the baby’s lower left corner.

This massage helps your baby to pass gas well and can relieve pain. Because the letter pattern in the massage follows the layout of the intestine. Which stimulates the intestine to relieve gas and constipation .

2- Cough and congestion:

A massage can help a baby feel better when he is suffering from congestion, cough and cold. You can follow these steps:

  • Step 1:
    • Use both hands, using small, circular strokes and massaging gently from chest to arms.
    • Then rub the entire chest in circular motions, using only one hand.
  • Step 2:
    • You massage your sinuses by gently running your fingertips from the inner end of the eyebrow all the way to the nose and then to the cheeks.
    • Repeat this movement several times, which helps to get rid of any mucus accumulated in the sinuses.
  • Step 3:
    • You massage the baby’s feet.
    • A foot massage helps generate heat that can help loosen the mucus inside the chest.

3- Hiccups:

Massage may be helpful when your baby has bouts of hiccups. Hiccups occur when irritated nerves in the abdominal cavity irritate the diaphragm due to accumulated gases or due to entry of air during breastfeeding. Massage can help relieve pressure on an irritated diaphragm, thus relieving hiccups.

  • When massaging to rid your baby of hiccups:
    • Put the baby in an upright position, and massage the baby from the lower back to the shoulders in circular motions.
    • You can do this by placing the baby on his stomach. But do not put too much pressure during the massage.

4- Jaundice (Yellow):

  • Body massaging infants with jaundice has been shown to reduce the amount of bilirubin (the compound that causes yellowing of the skin). 
  • Massage only relieves the symptoms and the associated discomfort of jaundice, which makes the baby feel better.
  • But remember that the treatment of jaundice is through breastfeeding or going to nursery, according to the doctor’s decision.

5- Vaccinations:

  • Topical massage after vaccination in children helps relieve pain and make the child feel better, and helps improve immunity to some vaccines.
  • The benefits of massage have been clinically proven, especially with the diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccine
  • Do not massage directly at the point where the vaccine was injected. But it is preferable to focus on the areas around the massage gently.

6- Teething

  • Massaging your baby’s gums while teething helps reduce pain and irritation.
  • You should wash your hands thoroughly and make sure they are dry. Then use your clean fingers to gently massage under the gums.
  • Do not apply any pressure or massage the upper part of the gums where the tooth appears.

Baby massage tips

There are some important points that you must remember before a massage:

  1. Stop the massage immediately if your baby shows signs of discomfort with the massage.
  2. Do not put too much pressure on the child’s body because their bones and tissues are still very sensitive.
  3. While massaging your baby, start making eye contact and speaking with a smile. This helps keep the child attentive, so that he can enjoy the massage.
  4. Choose baby massage oils that are 100% safe for babies and pose no health risk.
  5. Excess oils on your child’s skin should be wiped off.
  6. Establish a specific routine to make the baby more comfortable during the massage

When should you stop massaging the baby?

There is no fixed age to stop a massage. You can choose to massage the baby as long as you like.