Baby Massage: great for you and your baby

by Karen Emery. You don't need to attend a class to enjoy the wonderful benefits of a baby massage together. Have a go at home!

Baby massage

Introduction

Baby massage has lots of benefits for both you and your baby. And although there are many different baby massage techniques, it doesn’t have to be complicated! Simply massage your baby with gentle, rhythmic strokes working from your baby’s toes, up the body and to the top of your baby’s head.

Massaging your baby in this relaxing way will enhance the bond you share and help you gain a better understanding of your baby and your baby’s needs. When you touch your baby in a loving, sensitive way, your baby will gain a sense of self-worth and self-confidence and will feel loved and valued.

Physically, baby massage can help strengthen your baby’s immune system, and can help support and regulate your baby’s circulatory, respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. Massage is particularly helpful in relieving colic. When you massage your baby you are also helping your baby to develop body awareness, coordination and suppleness.

Baby massage is good for you too! When you massage your baby you actually increase the stress-relieving hormones in your body which are connected with relaxation, an improved immune system and general well-being.

How CBeebies can help

Your voice is an important part of your baby’s massage! Gently talking, humming or singing during the massage will create a calm environment but will also keep your baby’s attention with you and what you are doing.

The CBeebies website has many wonderful songs and nursery rhymes to try out when you are massaging your baby. Choose rhymes and songs that are simple, short and repetitive with a gentle and soothing beat.

The nursery rhymes featured in the Song Time section are particularly good, as are the ‘In The Night Garden’ songs. And why not click on the Teletubbies’ version of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ (in the Story Time section) which is really gentle and relaxing.

How to make a magic moment

Before you begin, make sure the environment is warm, calm and quiet and that you are not going to be interrupted. Place your baby on a towel on your lap or on the floor and take a few deep and relaxing breaths.

As you softly sing or hum the rhyme, massage your baby with gentle rhythmic strokes from the tips of their toes up through their body to the top of their head. Maintain eye contact throughout the massage.

Observe your baby. What are they telling you? Are they enjoying the massage? Do they seem settled? Are they cooing or smiling at you? If your baby seems upset or is crying, stop the massage and simply place your hands together gently upon your baby’s chest. Do they seem more settled? If they are, try massaging again. If they seem unsettled, try holding or cradling them and then try again. Don’t worry! At first, many babies may not settle into the massage but as they get used to your touch they will begin to enjoy it.

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Top tips

  • Tell your baby that you are going to touch or massage them. This lets your baby know a new experience is about to begin and helps your baby get ready for it. Pick the right time to massage your baby! Choose a time when your baby is quiet and alert. Your baby responds and learns best when in this state. Relax! If you relax and enjoy the massage experience, so will your baby. Try to incorporate baby massage into your daily routine. It is particularly beneficial for infants who may be separated from their parents during the day in childcare or nursery. Massage is a great way for both of you to reconnect. Why not join a baby massage course to learn specific techniques? Try your local children’s centre for information on free classes.

Expert opinion

Infant massage is an ancient art that connects you deeply with the person who is your baby, and helps you to understand your baby’s particular non-verbal language and respond with love and respectful listening.

Vimala McClure, Founder of The International Association Of Infant Massage

Parent's tale

I learned baby massage at my local health centre's parenting group. Gently massaging my baby's stomach can relieve colic, wind and constipation.

Rowena, from Edinburgh

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