Zap Stress and Bring On the Bonding with the Benefits of Infant Massage

Ahhh! A massage! That little bit of paradise that you can find at your local day spa transforms you from mum-on-the-go to stress-free and fab. But, what about baby?

Huh? Baby? That’s right, babies need massages too. No, not the same kind that you get. But, close.

While you’re not about to rush out and schedule your 3-month-old an appointment with the closest masseuse, you can still use some of these relaxing techniques to help your little one feel her best.

Infant massage has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels and improve baby’s sleep patterns. Okay, so how much stress could your baby have anyway? It’s not like she’s got a car payment to make or a presentation to give at work tomorrow. She basically eats, sleeps and plays – and, isn’t that your definition of ultimate relaxation?

Even though baby’s stress isn’t on par with yours, that doesn’t mean she’s totally relaxed 24-7. From noticing when you leave the room to a sudden, loud noise, your baby finds plenty of stress in her everyday life. With that in mind, a mini massage may be just what you baby needs from time to time.

Not only is infant massage good for your baby. It’s also good for you! The skin to skin contact during a mum-and-baby massage brings the two of you together and lets you bond through the sense of touch.

According to Beth Barclay, a qualified Mothercraft nurse with more than 20 years of experience, “Massaging baby helps parents get to know their baby’s sensitivities to touch, what particular parts of their body responds to a soothing touch more than others. It is even known to reduce colic symptoms and improve digestion.”

So, how do you massage your baby? Barclay suggests choosing a time when your baby is alert (i.e., avoid super-sleepy times). She adds that you should start on the legs (they are less sensitive than other areas of the body), massaging with long slow strokes. As you move on to your arms, make sure that baby is comfortable. If she seems stressed or is showing signs of discomfort, stop right away.

You can also add a gentile baby-friendly massage oil to the mix, such as Cetaphil Baby Massage Oil. Avoid massage oils and lotions that are made for adults. These could irritate baby’s sensitive skin. Using a made-for-baby oil lets you add another layer of relaxation to the massage, often with natural ingredients that are ales harsh than their chemical counterparts. For example, Cetaphil’s Baby Massage Oil contains botanical extracts such as calendula, shea butter and sunflower seed oil.

Adding a baby-safe massage oil also helps to moisturize your little one’s skin, keeping it soft and hydrated.

Will infant massage turn your baby’s tantrum down a notch or take her from an all-out cry-fest to sweet and serene? Probably not. But, then again, there’s no magic fix that will. That said, infant massage can help to keep your baby calm (as long as she’s not super-stressed when you start) and possibly even get her on a better resting schedule. Above and beyond the relaxation and sleep benefits that massaging your baby bring on, you get a better bond. It’s this magical time spent connecting with baby that makes infant massage a true winner!

Avatar of Belinda Jennings

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

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