Baby massage is one of the most beautiful, nurturing gifts you can give to 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 or from the free baby massage app from Aimee’s Babies in iTunes. You can massage your baby any time as long as she doesn’t have a fever or incision. It is best if you 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 the care of the baby. Here are some of the wonderful benefits of baby massage when it is performed according to the Baby’s First Massage technique:
1. Greater bonding between baby and caregiver
The skin on skin contact is great for bonding as well as tactile stimulation. The bonding is especially great for adopted babies, for dad to massage babies who are nursed by mom, 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.
4. Better coordination and motor development as baby grows
All the strokes in the Baby’s First Massage technique (as found in Aimee’s Babies apps) are performed head to toe, which traces the development of the baby’s neurological system. Studies have shown improved motor development as a result of regular massages to the baby.
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, but it is a new sensation that 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 to occur between brain cells and helping baby to 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 to the baby’s body helps them to learn the parameters of their body. It is extra helpful if mommy or daddy say “this is your leg” while massaging the baby’s leg, etc. The baby will start to associate 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 even start. It is a wonderful way to end the day and wind down for the night.