Touch is one of the most important senses for a young baby, and offers one of the best early bonding experiences for you both. As well making your baby feel calm and secure, baby massage can have many positive health benefits for your baby, such as relieving colic and wind, enhancing sleep, relaxing baby, and building immunity. There is also evidence to suggest that baby massage may help in relieving postnatal depression in new mothers.
First, choose a time when your baby is calm and relaxed. After bathtime and before her bedtime feed is ideal. Make sure the room is warm and your baby is comfortable. Have everything you need close to hand, such as a warm towel, clothes to dress your baby in afterwards, a clean nappy, a simple natural massage oil (good olive oil or grape seed oil is ideal), and some cotton wool to remove excess oil. Perform a patch test on your baby’s arm to check for any reactions first; use a lotion if there is a reaction to the oil.
Talk to your baby throughout and ask her for permission before massaging. This is a good opportunity to raise awareness in your baby of the different parts of her body, by naming them and talking to her about them. Keep the session to about five minutes in total. Your strokes should be soft and smooth, concentrating on each area before moving into the next. Begin with your baby’s chest and tummy, moving up the chest to the shoulders in a heart shape. Gently massage the tummy with the flat of your hand in a clockwise direction. Move on to your baby’s arms and legs, gently rolling your hands down each limb, not forgetting the fingers and toes. Count your baby’s fingers and toes, or use the opportunity to play This Little Piggy. Finish by gently putting your baby on her tummy and giving her back a soft massage.
Enrol in a course
There are lots of great baby massage courses around the country, and these offer a great practical form of teaching as well as the opportunity to meet other local mums and babies of similar ages. Go to www.babymassageireland.com for a baby massage instructor in your area. There is a discount under some health insurance schemes for baby massage courses; check this with your insurer and your instructor before proceeding.