When to Massage
Massaging can be done as often as you like, as long as it is enjoyable for both baby and you! In the beginning, your newborn may only like a massage to last for a few minutes, but with time, baby will enjoy longer sessions. Choose times when your baby is relaxed. When your baby is laying quietly, and prior to your baby's usual crying time or prior to bedtime. Just after a bath can be very relaxing for baby, and if you use Chamomile and Lavender in your massage oil, it will help promote a restful sleep. Even when feeding, you can take the opportunity to massage baby's little hands and feet, or gently stroke the face and head.
When Not to Massage:
- if baby is unwell or has a high temperature
- after immunisation – do not massage for at least 48 hours
- Baby has any cuts or wounds
- if baby has had a medical procedure
What to Use
Always be mindful of the ingredients that you are applying to your baby's sensitive skin. The newborn's skin is more absorbent because the outer layers are not yet fully developed, so any product that you apply, will have an effect on their health. Read your product labels carefully and become familiar with those ingredients that may be harmful, such as:
- sodium laureth sulphate
- sodium lauryl sulphate
- petro chemicals
- mineral oils
- grape seed extract
Choose a pure natural carrier oil, that is nourishing for the skin, such as Sweet Almond Oil, Sunflower Oil or Apricot Kernel Oil. With the addition of Essential Oils, you can add to the benefits your baby will receive from each massage. You only need to add 5 drops of Essential Oil to 100 ml of carrier oil, and always perform a skin test on your baby first to ensure no adverse reactions occur. Apply a small amount of oil to a very small area of skin. Wait for 30 minutes, and if there is no irritations or reaction, then you are ready to go!
Here are some perfect Essential Oils to add to your carrier oil:
- Chamomile – soothing, calming and restful, and calming for over tired children
- Lavender – relaxing, calming, healing
- Mandarin – cheery, soothing, antiseptic, refreshing
- Rose – sedative, soothing, anti-inflammatory, soothing for the skin
How to Massage
Being attentive to your baby's likes and dislikes will make the way you approach your massage routine more enjoyable and effective for you both. Massage is most beneficial when your baby is naked, but some babies do not like this, so they may prefer to be clothed or with just a singlet. Ensure that the room is warm, and is free from any distraction, such as phones, television or other noise. Take a moment to relax, and to calm yourself. Also have your hands nice and warm before you commence, as you do not want to startle baby with a cold touch.
An excellent position for starting your massage routine for a newborn, is to lie on your side facing baby. Then with a warm, well oiled hand, start with the upper back, in a clockwise, circular motion. Stay here for about a minute, and remember to use slow strokes, keeping continuous contact with the skin. Then gradually move down to massage baby's hips, and base of the spine for another minute. To complete this incredible experience, lie on your back, and gently lift baby onto your tummy. Skin on skin would, at this stage, provide the most effective bonding experience. Now, continue the massage, hand over hand, down baby's back, on both sides of the spine, again for approximately one minute.
Baby's from 6 weeks
From around six weeks of age, when baby is happy to lay on their back, you can introduce an all over body routine. Using the same soft circular strokes, start with the soles of the feet, from heels towards toes. Use long smooth strokes for the whole leg, from the ankle to the thigh area. From here move to the shoulders, using both hands move with circular strokes toward the chest. Massage the arms also using long strokes from the shoulders to the wrists. At this stage do not add oil to baby's hands or fingers, as they may put this into their mouth. If baby's tummy is not hard or full, then massage using your circular motions. Tummy's can be sensitive, so if your baby seems to become unsettled when you are massaging this area, then stop and move onto the next area. If you feel confident, then commence massaging the face by starting will little circles from the middle of the forehead, down the cheeks. With your fingertips, lightly massage baby's head, as if to be shampooing hair. If your baby is still happy, then turn them over and finish the session with long smooth strokes from head to toe.
Benefits of Massage
- for relaxation for you and baby
- deepen the bonding experience
- reduces stress and anxiety
- for health and well-being
- promotes sleep
- soothes irritability
Things to Remember
Your massage sessions should not be rushed, and should always be an enjoyable experience for you both. Points to remember are:
- Warm hands, that are well lubricated
- Have a warm room and ensure baby is warm
- Do not wake your baby for a massage
- Be aware, if baby cries, stop, as the baby may have other needs that need to be attended to first
- Keep your strokes smooth and continuous, and repeat each stroke several times
- Do not force baby's limbs into position
- AND ENJOY THE TIME WITH YOUR VERY SPECIAL LITTLE PERSON