Baby massage has become so popular in recent years that there are now whole shelves of books and DVDs showing parents how to do it. The idea is that massaging your baby encourages bonding, stimulates the immune system, reduces stress, lessens crying and promotes sleep. But you don’t need an expert to tell you how to do this. In fact, every time you absent-mindedly rubbed your belly when you were pregnant you were giving him a massage.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Choose a quiet time to do the massage when your baby’s alert, but not hungry or too tired.
- Wash your hands, then rub them together to warm them up. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature, too. If you’re going to use oil, olive oil is best.
- Undress your baby and lie him on a towel on his back. Smile, and ask him if he would like a massage.
- Use the tips of your fingers to press gently into your baby’s skin, rubbing in a circular motion.
- You can start anywhere you’d like, but it’s nice to have a routine and massage the same way every time. Massage his face, forehead, and scalp, then lightly put both hands on his breastbone and move them outward. Gently massage his tummy in a clockwise motion. Knead his little legs starting at his thighs, to his calves, and then his feet. Pull on his toes, rotate his ankles, and point and flex his feet.
- Turn your baby onto his tummy and massage his back, bottom and the backs of his legs with the tips of your fingers in the same circular motion.
- If your baby cries or starts squirming, he’s had enough. Try again another day.
Avoid using nut-based oils as they may cause allergies in babies. Likewise, avoid using heavily perfumed creams or oils as they may irritate your baby’s skin and nose. Do not massage your baby’s tummy until he’s at least four weeks old.