Baby massage is one of the most beautiful, nurturing gifts you can give your baby. Anyone can do it, it is a wonderful way to bond with the baby, and it doesn’t take any special skills or certification to massage a baby. You can learn some specific strokes by watching this video (here) and reading this article on how to do infant massage.
You can massage your baby any time as long as she doesn’t have a fever or incision. It is best to wait about a half-hour after she eats since several strokes are for the abdominal area. It is also a great way for siblings and cousins to be involved in caring for the baby. Here are some of the wonderful benefits of baby massage when it is performed according to Baby’s First Massage technique:
Benefits of Baby Massage
1. Greater bonding between baby and caregiver
The skin-on-skin contact is excellent for bonding as well as tactile stimulation. The bonding is especially great for adopted babies, dads, and babies who spent time in the NICU.
2. Relaxes the baby and the caregiver
Massage releases endorphins in the baby and the caregiver, helping to relax everyone while also regulating baby’s sleep/wake cycles.
3. Improved immunity
Because massage stimulates blood flow, it is great for immunity and keeping the baby healthy. This is especially beneficial during flu season.1
4. Better coordination and motor development as baby grows
All the strokes in Baby’s First Massage technique (as found in Aimee’s Babies apps) are performed head to toe, which traces the baby’s neurological system development. Studies have shown improved motor development due to regular massages to the baby.2
5. Better digestion and gas relief
Several strokes are specifically targeted to baby’s abdominal area. These strokes help to stimulate digestion, move the baby’s bowels and help with gas relief. Moving gas and bowls is not necessarily painful for babies. Still, it is a new sensation they do not experience in utero, so anything parents can do to help speed up the process will benefit the baby and the parent!
6. Improved touch processing
The stroking on the baby’s skin helps to stimulate the tactile system. Because skin is our largest organ, it has a large representation in our brain. Stimulating baby’s skin is stimulating a large part of their brain, causing connections between brain cells and helping baby process the sense of touch.
7. Improved body awareness
When babies are born, they have no sense of where their body stops and mommy’s body starts. They do not know that they have two hands and two feet. This concept of body awareness is learned over the first few years. Massage helps to bring that awareness. The stimulation of the baby’s body helps them to learn the parameters of their body. It is extra helpful if mommy or daddy says, “this is your leg,” while massaging the baby’s leg, etc. The baby will start associating the language with the body part feeling the sensation.
A great time to do baby massage is after bath time. It can be part of the daily routine! You can use lotion, but you don’t have to. Babies will come to expect their massage and become calm before you start. It is a wonderful way to end the day and wind down for the night.