Baby massage: benefits, when and how?
Relaxation, better digestion, parent-child connection, improved sleep... Baby massage has many merits. But when and how? What should you avoid? Charlie Crane explains it all. Namaste!
What are the benefits of a baby massage?
And there are plenty of them! Here's the list:
- Helps develop parent-child bonding thanks to the closeness and complicity of the moment.
- Trains non-verbal communication: massage requires you to listen to your baby to know whether he or she likes the movements performed.
- Relaxation: it's a real moment of relaxation for both baby and parent.
- Better sleep and wakefulness thanks to the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- Helps reduce the stress the baby may feel.
- Improves digestion, relieves colic and gas.
- Stimulates and improves blood circulation.
Under what conditions?
Choose a place that's spacious and comfortable for both of you: a NOGA changing table, a parent's bed, a mattress, a TAMI playmat... The idea is to create a cocoon in which you'll be ready to enjoy the moment. Don't forget to remove your rings and bracelets, which could hurt your baby.
How long does the massage last?
Allow around twenty minutes, with 3/4 repetitions per movement. Note that this is only an indication. The massage is adapted to your baby's reactions. Sometimes your massage will last only 5 minutes!
As you can see, massaging your baby has many benefits, both physical and emotional. Above all, take your time and adapt to your child, as this should be a moment of pleasure for both of you.
At what age can I start massaging my baby?
You can start massaging from the very first days, trying out movements little by little. The advantage of starting early is to establish a ritual that your child will appreciate even as he or she grows: by the age of 10 months or so, babies are more alert and generally less focused. Note that massages become a little more complicated when your baby knows how to turn around!
What type of oil should I use?
Ideally, choose organic, virgin, cold-pressed, fragrance-free edible vegetable oils. Rapeseed oil is particularly suitable for baby's skin. You can mix it with sunflower oil and linseed oil, which contain high levels of Omega 3.
Avoid oleaginous oils (sweet almond, shea, olive...) as they may be allergenic to a young child's skin. If you only have this type of oil on hand, there's no formal prohibition, but make sure that the composition is 100% oil.
Don't skimp on the amount of oil to make the massage more pleasant.
When to give a massage
Make sure your child is ready to receive a massage: he'll be less receptive to the approach of a meal if he's hungry, just after digestion or if he wants to sleep.
Don't hesitate to stop and start again later if you see he's not receptive!
The massage comes and goes on demand. Try it out at different times to see which one he accepts best.
What moves to make?
First of all, the rhythm of the massage is set by the child's reaction.
You can start with the feet to test your baby's tolerance.
Try to keep in touch with him at all times, and observe his behavior to see if the movements are pleasing to him (astonishment, surprise...).
Use large circular movements from groin to toes with both hands to free the joint. Alternate with rotating movements.
Use both thumbs to apply gentle pressure under the arch of the foot and between the toes.
Move up towards the pelvis and make small rotations before moving up towards the abdominal area. Massage the belly in a clockwise direction, applying gentle pressure with the palm of your hand to the rhythm of the baby's breathing.
These movements help relieve gas and colic... almost immediate effect guaranteed!
Turn your baby over, resting his tummy on your forearm, and move back and forth on his back. Be careful, younger babies may not accept this position: if this is the case, don't insist and try again later.
For the upper body, imitate the same movements as for the lower body, stretching and rotating the arms. Stimulate the palm of the hand with your thumbs: this area is very relaxing for the baby.
If you want to massage the face, you can start at the base of the nose between the eyebrows and massage up to the ears. They will appreciate being stimulated under the eyes, from the lips to the ears and on the chin.
The skull is a sensitive area for babies under one year old, so avoid it!
The Charlie Crane team