Massage can help your child become more aware of his body and deal with minor aches and pains in everyday life while also providing you and your child with a moment of relaxation and well-being. This post will look at all the benefits and techniques of massaging your baby.
Benefits of massaging your baby
Communication with an infant can take different forms. Among these, tactile exchanges occupy a privileged place.
Massaging your baby develops his sense of touch stimulates his entire body while meeting toddlers’ need for intense contact. It also:
– brings well-being to the child, to reduce his stress, to calm his anxieties;
– helps the child to become aware of the different parts of his body;
– stimulates the secretion of the attachment hormone oxytocin.
Therefore, it is an additional way to create a strong emotional bond with your child. It prolongs the physical closeness that united the baby to his mother during the entire pregnancy and can help the father to find his place with the child.
Massage to heal his ailments
If it is a source of well-being, massage can also fight against minor aches and pains that affect young children. For example:
– colic, abdominal pain that affects many infants, can be relieved by belly massage, as well as constipation;
– sleep disorders can be improved with a massage.
Please note: although massage is indicated to relieve certain disorders, it is not recommended to practice it on a baby with a fever: it may raise the body temperature.
It helps premature babies.
Various clinical studies on babies born before term show the beneficial impact of massage on their health.
One study determined that infants who received three daily massage sessions, each lasting 15 minutes, gained 50% more weight than the control group and had a shorter hospital stay.
Techniques for massaging a baby
Although parents may feel a little clumsy in their first attempts to massage their child, instinct quickly dictates what to do!
Gestures come spontaneously, and the baby’s reactions are a good indication of what he particularly likes.
However, in our culture, where we are a bit distant from these practices, it can be helpful to reassure ourselves by exchanging with other parents, and animators specialized in this theme thanks to workshops offered by different associations.
Setting up a suitable environment
To ensure that the massage is a moment of shared pleasure, it is advisable to put all the chances on your side:
– Have time to spare: this moment should not be timed! The parent must feel available and relaxed.
– Be in front of a receptive baby: a hungry child will not benefit from the session; the digestion period should also be avoided.
– Choose a comfortable place: the ambient temperature must be adapted so that the baby, undressed for the occasion, does not feel cold. The baby can lie on a small mattress, covered with a soft blanket or a nursing pillow.
Good to know: it is possible to massage a very young baby from his first days of life.
Use of a suitable oil
You must carefully select the massage oil used to respect the fragile skin of the little one:
– Favour an organic vegetable oil, such as calendula oil, obtained from marigold flowers, which has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. You can also consider sweet almond oil, but taking into account the risk of allergy or walnut, hazelnut, coconut, jojoba, sesame oil, etc.
– oleo-calcareous liniment, a mixture of lime water and olive oil, bought in stores or made at home, is also a good solution.
– Essential oils are not recommended before the child is two years old and should always be used with great care.
– You should avoid mineral oils from the petrochemical industry. Many massage oils for babies sold in stores contain them.
Note: you must warm up the oil before being applied to the baby’s skin by holding it in the palm.
Baby massage: adapted gestures
The whole of the baby’s body can be massaged: the limbs, the trunk, the head… The legs and feet are good to start gently and get the child used to it.
– Legs: first, grab the top of the leg, then move down to the foot by massaging it with the palm and holding it between the thumb and forefinger. The two hands take turns on the same leg, stimulated one after another.
– Feet: the thumbs move up from the heel to the toes; each is then stimulated individually.
These messages can easily be done before or after the diaper change, outside of a complete massage session, and are very appreciated by babies:
– The belly: the gestures, circular, are carried out in a clockwise direction to promote digestion and relieve painful manifestations. We can also realize crossed movements: the hand starts from the hip and goes up towards the opposite shoulder, then goes down again; we change the side to describe big X.
– The arms: place your hands on the upper torso, move up to the shoulder, then move down to the wrist. The palm of the child’s hand is stimulated with the thumb. Each finger is covered.
– The back: the baby lies on its stomach, and the adult makes smoothing gestures from the base of the neck to the top of the buttocks; you can then massage the top of the buttocks with small circular gestures of the thumbs. We massage on both sides of the spine, avoiding passing over it.
– The face: use gentle gestures; the thumbs and fingertips go over the baby’s cheeks and forehead.