For nine months you have carried your baby in your womb, surrounded by warmth and safety. Now they are here, out in the world, and you probably find yourself wondering how you can make the big wide world feel like a safe sanctuary for them to grow and thrive in.
There are a lot of new sights, sounds, smells and sensations, and the thing that makes your little one feel the safest is their mothers' touch. This is just one of the many benefits of infant massage. Keep reading to discover some top tips about how to use this wonderful practice of soothing touch with your newborn.
10 Create The Right Environment
Your baby isn't going to expect a professional massage set-up! It is impractical and unsafe to re-create an adult spa experience for them - naked flames on candles are an accident waiting to happen, and most new moms won't have calming whale music waiting in the wings to be played.
That being said, massaging baby should be a calming experience rather than a stressful one, so, where possible, try and dim bright lights and remove distractions to allow you and your little one to fully enjoy the experience together.
9 Temperature Is Key
Your baby is a sensitive little soul. Make sure that when you give them a massage the room is the right temperature for them to be comfortable and happy. The ideal temperature for sleep may be a little chilly once your baby is down to their nappy for massage time, so bear this in mind.
Skin-to-skin touch is important, but only undress your baby as far as their comfort allows. For example, you can still reach those gorgeous little legs if you choose to leave their vest on!
8 Use The Right Type Of Oil
More specifically, don't use the wrong oil, as technically there is no one 'right' product. Every baby is different and every caregiver will have their favorite oil to use. Proper lubrication is important to keep those hands gliding over baby's delicate skin, but it is also important to avoid ingredients that may cause irritation.
As a general rule of thumb, pure and natural oil is best. Some use coconut or almond oil, while others plump for heavier olive oil. Plain old baby oil will do the job, or you could get creative and mix your own. Some moms swear by adding aromatherapy oils to their mix to reap the sweet-smelling benefits, but this is definitely a very personal choice.
7 Take Your Time And Enjoy The Experience
The thing about little babies is that they don't stay little babies for long. Whether it is your first, second, or fifth baby, your little one will be growing in front of your eyes and you will sometimes wish they would slow down.
It is important to take a break from the laundry, the pets, the partner, the other kids, the day-job... whatever else is happening in your world and enjoy special time together as mother and child. Make sure you have enough time set aside so that you can take your time and enjoy strengthening your bond through baby massage without having to rush.
6 Involve Dad And Other Caregivers
They say there is no bond stronger than that of a mother and her child. You can see why this might be assumed. After all, it is mom who carries the baby until they are born, and during those nine months they are physically linked, so it would make sense for them to have a strong emotional connection once they are born.
Massage is a fantastic way for dad to bond with their new baby, and other caregivers can also get involved for some skin-to-skin connecting that will make baby and caregiver feel on top of the world.
5 Use Massage As A Tool To Help With Baby's Health
Learning how to properly massage your baby's feet might just change your life. From relieving abdominal pain to helping with teething, a little foot rub in the right places might just stop your baby crying and save your sanity if they are feeling under the weather. Just remember, your babies' tiny toes are delicate and a little bit of pressure will go a long way!
Giving a griping baby a massage will also provide a distraction, so there is nothing to lose by giving it a go next time your little one seems unwell.
4 Use Massage As Part Of Baby's Bedtime Routine
As a new parent, nothing is more appealing than the idea of baby sleeping soundly through the night while you catch up on your sleep deficit. While there is no magic trick to guarantee good sleep for your baby, massage can certainly help.
It relaxes their bodies and minds and puts them in an ideal state to drift off gently to sleep. Incorporating a massage for your baby into their bedtime routine might be what they need to help send them on their way to sleeping through the night.
3 Set Realistic Expectations
Be realistic about what you want you and your baby to get out of the massage. Mostly, it is less about physical benefits and more about emotional health and wellbeing. If your baby's toes are ticklish and they won't let you massage them, that's okay. If your baby is just too relaxed and falls asleep partway through, that's okay too (in fact, it's a massive compliment).
Use the time to cut off from the stresses of the outside world and connect with your little one. If you have spent time together and used your touch to soothe and bond with baby, then you have succeeded - it doesn't matter if you only got to one of their arms, they won't mind!
2 Attend A Class
There are lots of online resources available, but if you are struggling to give baby massage a go at home, consider attending a class. Classes are gaining popularity and popping up all over, from community centers to yoga studios and beyond.
One of the best parts about attending a class is that you also have the social element. Once class is over and all of the babies are in a deep post-massage slumber, the grown-ups can talk or even grab a coffee. Making mom friends is notoriously hard, but this is one good way to do it.
1 Wait Until Your Baby is Ready
As tempting as it is to sign up for as many classes and activities as possible when your little one arrives, it is important to wait until your baby is ready to be massaged. While there are no rules governing this, most parents choose to wait until the baby is 6 weeks old. By 6 weeks the baby will have had conditions that may be aggravated by massage (such as hip dysplasia) checked for and baby will have settled in a more predictable routine.
This being said, gentle touch can be used to soothe and bond from birth, but it may be worth holding off on some of the more intense strokes until your babe is just that little bit older and more developed.