Everything You Need To Know About Massaging Infants

Constipation, colic, and gas are three prevalent issues faced by babies. Infant massage is an effective way of not only relieving these symptoms but also helping your little one relax too.

There’s a ton of benefits that come with infant massage, and as it turns out, it’s quite easy to do yourself. From discomfort relief to good old-fashioned bonding, infant massage is something all parents should know. We have everything you need to know about massaging infants right here.

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Benefits of Infant Massage

Think about how relaxed you feel after getting a good massage. Now imagine how your baby might feel, especially if they’re experiencing tummy issues or sleeping problems. Infant Massage USA classifies the benefits of this activity in four different ways: stimulation, relaxation, relief, and interaction.

Each benefit impacts your child in some way through those four categories. Here are some of the most prominent benefits of infant massage.

Developmental Support

During massage time, your infant experiences a lot of stimulation. While they relax to your touch, you also stimulate several parts of their body, including the circulatory and immune systems. The increased blood flow helps maintain a healthy heart and stable body temperature.

Some massage routines also include techniques that encourage muscular growth and development. One of the most common methods that come to mind is the bicycle procedure. This technique not only exercises your baby’s legs, but it can help relieve gas pains too.

Fostering a Healthy Bond

One-on-one time with your baby gives you both an opportunity to bond and create an attachment between the two of you. Infant massage can be extremely beneficial to mothers who suffer from postpartum depression due to the release of oxytocin.

Oxytocin, or “the bonding hormone" when talking about the parent-child relationship, is released during social contact and is prominent during skin-to-skin contact. Oxytocin is also said to be a natural pain reliever and mood booster too.

parent with baby

Improved Quality of Sleep

Because infant massage is so relaxing, it’s no surprise that it helps promote better sleep in your infant. Adding infant massage into your nightly routine may save your sanity by allowing you both to get better sleep at night.

If you’ve ever gone to get a massage somewhere, try to remember how you felt after the massage was over. With the release of oxytocin and other natural chemicals, it’s common to feel so relaxed you want to sleep.

How to Effectively Massage Your Infant

To maximize the benefits of infant massage, make sure to have the following things on hand:

  • A warm blanket or towel: This way, they feel more snug and relaxed for you. Using a blanket or towel is also helpful in carefully flipping the baby over to massage their back.
  • Baby massage oil: You can also use baby lotion, but oil won’t feel cold when it meets your baby’s skin. It’s best to rub it in your hands for a few seconds to warm it up. 
  • A quiet, dim room that is free from distractions: A distraction-free zone will help you and your baby focus only on each other. You may choose to play some soothing music, but it certainly isn’t required.

Before starting, it’s recommended to sit with your feet together and your blanket or towel over your legs. During infant massage, your baby should only be wearing their diaper, or nothing at all if you prefer. A naked baby makes applying the massage oil or lotion much less of a hassle, just be careful when you go to pick them up.

Each part of the body requires different steps while massaging for it to be the most effective. To make the experience more enjoyable, make sure your strokes are gentle but still firm.

You should build massage into your baby’s routine during their quiet awake hours. The most important thing to remember, though, is to follow your baby’s cues. If they seem fidgety during the massage, then it’s probably time to stop for that session.

parent with baby

Baby’s Belly

To massage the tummy section, place your hands in a way that your pinky fingers can glide across the belly like a paddle. You can begin at the ribs and then stroke downward.

When you massage the baby’s abdomen, use your fingertips and massage in a “clockwise” motion and then massage around the baby’s belly button in the same clockwise motion.

If you’re looking for techniques to try relieving gas, you can try either, or both of these techniques:

  • Knees together: With this one, hold baby’s knees and feet together, press upwards toward the belly and rotate their hips to the right.
  • Tummy rock: To do this, place a horizontal hand on your baby’s tummy and rock your hand from side to side. You shouldn't do this technique shouldn’t until your child has lost their cord stump.

Head

Head and face massage starts with cradling your baby’s head in your hands. Then, massage the scalp just like you would if you were shampooing their hair. Next, press their ears with your thumb and pointer finger.

You can also massage along the outer edges of their face and using your thumbs, massage their eyebrow area in outward lines. While your child’s eyes are closed, gently massage their eyelids with your thumbs.

Massage the nose and cheeks by using the same outward motions. Then, you can massage the jaw by creating small circles with your fingers.

Chest

Starting in the middle of the chest, gently stroke outward toward your infant’s shoulders. Then, use your hands to massage going up to the shoulders and meeting back together at the sternum.

Next, make a giant X shape by starting up at the shoulders and meeting at the diagonal hip.

Arms

With the arms, start by holding their wrist and massaging up and down. Then, grasp the arm with both hands and massage while rotating your hands in opposite movements.

Next, massage the hand by using your thumb to relax the palm and gently rub each finger. Then you rub the wrist with your fingers and finish by rolling the entire arm between your hands.

You’ll also use these same techniques when massaging your infant’s legs.

infant

Back

To massage her back, lay your baby on their tummy. Start at the neck and move downwards with your hands. Then, massage the spine by drawing small circles with your fingertips.

Never massage directly on the spine as that can cause damage. Instead, massage next to the spine.

Next, massage the shoulders with smaller motions and more significant circular motions for the butt. To finish off, gently stroke your baby's back with your fingertips as if you were petting an animal.

Finding an Infant Massage Class

There’s only so much you can learn by scouring internet articles, and with activities like infant massage, it’s best to get a hands-on learning experience. If you’re interested in infant massage, there’s a handy directory that connects you with certified infant massage experts in your area.

Relaxing With Baby

There are so many benefits to infant massage that parents can’t afford not to check it out. Whether you’re looking for a bonding experience or your poor babe suffers from tummy issues, infant massage is certainly something to check into.

If you’re nervous about doing it right or wrong, there are so many experts certified in infant massage that can help you. So check out a class or get in touch with your nearest expert today. Your baby will thank you later.

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