1. Don’t get too hung up on the routine – listen to your baby and use your instincts as to what works best. Use a class, DVD/download or written notes for guidance of course, but be led by your baby. If they don’t like something they will usually let you know so leave that and either go back to a move they were comfortable with or move on. Don’t forget to try again another day or after a few weeks have passed, as babies grow, their likes and dislikes change rapidly.
2. Don’t massage if baby is unwell, has recently had inoculations or has recently been fed. Obviously with small babies this is a small window – the main concern with massaging after a feed is discomfort for the baby and risk of vomiting. It’s fine to continue if baby falls asleep though – and it is almost the ultimate compliment and a sure sign you are doing a great job.
3. Use the routine at home, before or after the bath is a nice time and can help your baby sleep (a bonus!) but bear in mind that often after the bath baby may be very tired and starving hungry so won’t respond too well!. Set up a consistent procedure of towel, oil, music or similar and build it into your daily routine. They will begin to expect and look forward to it and it’s a wind down for you too. Just ten minutes is fine if you can’t do all the techniques.
4. Oil, oil, oil. Keep re-applying and make sure you use lots of oil, its nourishing for the skin and makes the massage much nicer for both of you. Take off your jewellery to avoid catching their delicate skin. Use a natural, ideally organic, cold pressed oil such as grapeseed or olive. Modern mineral oils do not absorb well into the skin and can often be impregnated with fragrance so I wouldn’t recommend these. Babies bond through smell and chemical fragrance can disrupt this progress. Be careful handling your oily baby afterwards – they can be as slippery as a bar of soap! Wrap them up snugly in a towel and use it to pat off excess oil, especially on their hands as they quickly go into their mouths, however if you choose your oil carefully there will be no problems. To be safe you can patch test with a drop of your chosen oil to the inside of their wrist and wait for 24 hours in case of a reaction.
5. Don’t worry or feel you are doing it wrong – you can’t! Each baby is different and gently touching and being with your baby is going to benefit you both. Be gentle and communicate with your baby and you will both get a lot out of the experience. You will be amazed at how quickly your confidence grows
6. Ask anything that pops into your head, it’s not silly if it’s important to you. Feel free to ask your teacher anything, and of course if you buy your DVD/download from me I provide full email support and you should expect that as standard. Remember that if you are really concerned about your baby please do seek independent medical advice immediately.
7. Relax! If your happy, smiley and relaxed, hopefully baby will be too. Eye contact and positive body language will reassure baby, but don’t worry if they cry – it’s natural and just their way of communicating. Scoop them up and cuddle them and they may be happy to proceed further, if not, end the massage there and try again another day.
8. Be responsive to their body language and non-verbal cues. Try just massaging the hands or feet while baby is snuggled in a towel, or repeating the routine on the front if baby protests at being on their front. If your baby hates being undressed, try the moves through their clothes, or just leave a vest on. Smaller babies may feel more secure if they have a muslin draped over the half of the body you aren’t working on, this will also help to keep them warm.
9. Use this time wisely, its lovely one-on-one bonding time.
10. But don’t get too upset if baby isn’t interested.