Infant massage is fast becoming a popular trend in developed world. The growing awareness of the benefits of infant massage is reflected in our gradual return to customs our ancestors practiced before they were abandoned in the name of “progress”.
Health Benefits of Infant Massage
Massage has become the treatment of choice for adults seeking relief from stressful, hectic lives. Now, a growing number of parents are discovering that infant massage is a nurturing, joyful way to bond with their babies while dramatically improving their newborn’s responsiveness and overall health. In fact, infant massage is second only to breastfeeding as the most fulfilling form of nurturing a baby can receive.
The soothing quality of infant massage promotes overall health and helps an infant learn one of the most valuable skills they will ever be taught in this fast-paced world – how to relax.
It is important that parents – not therapists – massage their own infants, so they can share in the benefits. These moments centered on baby are especially important for working parents and those with multiple children. Fathers, in particular, can build confidence in creating an emotional bond with their child through mastering the techniques of baby massage. The psychological benefits are the most appealing aspect of baby massage.
Infant massage improves the function of a baby’s brain, heart and liver; improves blood flow, and strengthens gastrointestinal and respiratory tract function. The practical value of baby-massage is most apparent when dealing with colic, constipation, weaning, teething, post-natal depression, sleep difficulties and difficult breastfeeding.
Tips On Baby Massage
The following is a description of baby massage for the face and head only:
- Lay baby; face up on your lap or on a blanket. Start the massage on the baby’s face and head. There’s no need for oil here and besides you don’t want it in the baby’s eyes. Always touch your baby very gently and softly – a caressing, flowing stroke with little or no pressure. Note that very young infants may be sensitive in this area. Their head may still be tender on top and over the ears from delivery. And their rooting reflex is so strong that stroking their cheeks may frustrate them.
- Start at the hairline, both sides, top of head. Avoid the fontanel or soft spot on top of the head. Stroke around over the top and side down to his neck using small circles. Three rows ending behind the ears.
- Next, outline baby’s face with smooth relaxed fingers top, mid forehead to chin.
- Then with both thumbs starting at mid top forehead smooth outward in rows down baby’s face. Across the brows, over the eyes, over the nose etc. If baby’s rooting reflex is still very strong avoid the cheek and mouth area
- Next, do small circles with your fore and next finger from the temple down and along the jaw line to chin, again, both sides at the same time. (Especially soothing for teething babies).
- End with the outline of baby’s face again. Each stroke can be repeated as you and baby like. Please be very light and gentle. Remember there is no need for oil when massaging the face and head.
Note: Do not massage a sick or feverish child.