A gentle relaxing massage can do wonders to reduce your stress, increase your awareness, and improve your sleep, and it can also do the same for your baby.
The positives of infant massage are still being fully explored, but many studies have shown that it can have beneficial effects not only for babies but also for parents and caregivers as well. Let's explore some benefits of baby massage and address some questions and concerns.
1.)Enhances mental, social and physical development of your baby
Gentle massage encourages the advancement of flexibility and coordination of your baby while also increasing oxygen and nutrient flow to the cells and improving brain-body communication.
2.) Promotes better sleep
For many parents helping your baby get better sleep, can contribute to you getting your eight hours as well. Research by the University of Warwick suggests that infant massage reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and can lead to increased levels of melatonin —a hormone which affects sleep regulation. Baby massage can help infants fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer.
3.) Reduces crying and colic
Crying and colic can be hard for many parents. Long bouts can be frustrating and exhausting for baby and parent alike. Many infant seats, swings and rockers have a vibration feature which can help with crying and colic. One study found that baby massage was equal to a crib vibrator in reducing colic, and reducing the amount of time that babies spent crying.
4.) Increased weight gain, awareness and motor development
Studies suggest that baby massage helps with weight gain, improves muscle tone, and increases motor functions. These effects are even more important for babies born, prematurely who need to put on that extra weight. One study found that premature babies who received touch therapy gained 47% more weight than those who didn’t
5.) Improves Bonding between parent and child
Baby massage reduces the amount of cortisol levels not only for your baby but can also reduce yours as well. Physical contact also releases Oxytocin —a hormone which causes feelings of connection and closeness, which can improve mood and reduce stress levels. There is evidence that baby massage helps mothers suffering from postpartum depression and improves bonding between fathers and babies as well
There are numerous other benefits to baby massage including:
- Aiding in digestion and reducing gassiness
- Reducing babies stress and improving feelings of safety and comfort
- Decreases chance of jaundice
- Encourages interaction between parent and child
How safe is baby massage?
Babies skin is soft and has delicate nerve receptors, so too much massage can overstimulate some babies, but the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. There are a few things to remember though:
Gentle massage is the best for babies. While tougher deep-tissue massages might feel great on those tough knots of yours, your baby doesn’t need much pressure to get the benefits that touch therapy can offer
A brief massage is enough. Try to keep your baby’s massage to around 5-10 minutes.
Practice responsive massage. Your baby can’t tell you when they’ve had enough rubs or when they aren’t in the mood for a massage. Try to read their body language instead. If your baby becomes fussy, squirmy, avoids eye contact, begins to cry, or goes rigid, then it might be a sign that it's better to save the massage for another time.
Avoid the top of the head. Even during a soft massage, you should avoid the babies soft spot while it is still in the process of knitting together.
When is a good time for a massage?
There is no perfect time. If you’re adding baby massage to your daily routine, try to make sure that it is not directly after feeding (try to allow at-least 45 minutes) as it might increase chances of spitting up. You also don’t want to massage your baby when they’re too hungry, as they may become fussy. Try to find an appropriate time that works for you daily so that you and your baby can get into a comfortable routine, and try to avoid times where you might feel rushed, or could be interrupted.
What massage oil should I use?
You’ll want to use a massage oil that is so safe you can actually eat it. Try to avoid getting massage oil on your baby’s face, but choose a brand that’s not harmful if it does get into their mouths (they do love to put everything in there! Including hands and feet which might have massage oil on them) Vegetable oils and cold pressed fruit oils are acceptable. Do not use any oils that contain perfumes, dyes, or chemical derivatives. Before deciding to use any oil on your baby’s skin, test it on a small area and wait several hours, or as much as a full day before using it for a full massage, to ensure that it doesn’t cause any allergic reactions.
We suggest Koala Baby Base Oil for babies under three months of age as it does not contain essential oil (this a very important time of your babies development to receive massage as they are constantly lying down and are unable to crawl at this point) and after three months of age, we recommend Koala Baby Rub A Bub organic baby massage oil. It is made with a blend of six high-quality vegetable oils and contains lavender and chamomile essential oils, to create a calming aroma. It can be used to clean ears and a navel as well as in the bath. It is a fantastic organically certified massage oil for babies, and also helps to moisturise and protect their skin.