How to massage your baby – an ideal bedtime routine:
Routines are good. Routines are effective. Routines are adaptive. Routines are beneficial to the child/ children and the mother/ parents. As a rule of thumb, most parents should use structured routines with their children for bedtime, mealtime, playtime and other daily routines. Your baby will be more relaxed if she knows what’s coming next. The more relaxed she is, the more likely she’ll go to bed easily and fall asleep quickly and the more relaxed you will be.
The sooner you establish a bedtime routine, the better, when your baby is as young as 6 weeks old, start following a set pattern every night. She’ll quickly come to appreciate the consistency and predictability. A bedtime ritual is often good for parents too, it’s a special time set aside for you to spend with your baby. It’s important to teach your baby that his room is a nice place to be, not just where he’s “banished” at bedtime.
A bedtime routine should consist of the following, giving baby a bath, giving baby a massage, playing a game/ singing a song or telling a story, feeding baby and saying goodnight.
The benefits of massage:
Studies have shown that massaging an infant can reduce crying and fussiness, help her sleep more peacefully, and alleviate common wail-inducers like constipation and colic. Some say that it even boosts a baby’s ability to fight off germs. Giving your baby a massage is as simple as it is enjoyable, it will help you feel more in control and learn how to better read your baby. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes. Pick a time when you’re relaxed and your baby is quiet but alert. (If you try to massage a fussy baby, you may overstimulate him and make him unhappy) Try starting after a diaper change or as part of a bath time ritual.
According to Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine “When you give your baby a massage, you’re actually stimulating her central nervous system .”That sets off a chain reaction: It makes her brain produce more serotonin, a feel-good chemical, and less cortisol, a hormone that’s secreted in response to stress. As a result, your baby’s heart rate and breathing slows down, and she becomes more relaxed. “
“Affectionate touch and rhythmic movement are among the most powerful forms of communication between babies and their parents, so they’re great ways for you to bond,” says K. Mark Sossin, PhD, director of the Parent-Infant Research Nursery at Pace University, in New York City.
How and when to massage my baby:
- Determine your baby’s mood and readiness for a massage: Massaging your baby too soon after feeding might cause your baby to vomit — so wait at least 45 minutes after feeding. Also pay close attention to your baby’s mood. If your baby has a steady gaze and appears calm and content, he or she might enjoy a massage. If your baby turns his or her head away from you or becomes stiff in your arms, it might not be the best time for a massage.
- Create a calm atmosphere. Before you begin, make sure the room is warm and quiet. Take off any jewelry that could get in the way, and grab some baby oil, if your baby has sensitive skin you could use fragrance-free aqueous cream. Place your baby on his or her back so that you can maintain eye contact. As you undress your baby, tell him or her it’s massage time.
- Control your touch. When you first start massaging your baby, use a gentle touch. Avoid tickling your baby, as your baby grows, use a firmer touch.
- Slowly stroke and knead each part of your baby’s body. Spend approximately one minute each rubbing different part’s.
- Stay relaxed. Talk to your baby throughout the massage. You might sing or tell a story. Try repeating your baby’s name.
The different body parts to massage:
- The legs: Your baby’s legs are a good place to begin, as they’re less sensitive than some parts of the body. Using a little oil, wrap your hands around one of her thighs and pull down, one hand after the other, squeezing gently, as if you’re “milking” her leg. Switch legs and repeat.
- The feet: Take one foot and gently rotate it a few times in each direction. Then stroke the top of your baby’s foot from the ankle down to the toes. Switch feet and repeat.
- The soles: Use your thumbs to trace circles all over the bottom of each foot.
- The toes: To finish off the feet, grab each toe between your thumb and forefinger and gently pull until your fingers slip off the end. Do this for all 10 toes.
- The arms: Take one of your baby’s arms in your hands and repeat the milking motion from his armpit all the way to his wrist. Then, take his hand and gently rotate the wrist a few times in each direction. Switch arms and repeat
- The hands: Trace tiny circles all over the palm of each hand with your thumbs
- The fingers: Gently take a finger between your thumb and forefinger and pull, letting her finger slip through your grasp. Do this for all fingers and her two thumbs.
- The chest: Put your hands together in prayer position over your baby’s heart. Then stroke your hands outward and lightly flatten your palms down over his chest. Repeat several times.
- The back: Roll your baby onto her tummy. Using your fingertips, trace tiny circles on either side of her spine from the neck down to the buttocks. Finish with some long, firm strokes from your baby’s shoulders all the way to her feet. When you’re done, put on her diaper and cuddle or feed her. She’ll likely doze right off.
Once you start massaging your baby, when and how often you massage your baby is up to you. You might give your newborn a daily massage. Your toddler might enjoy a massage at night as a soothing part of his or her bedtime routine. Stick to your routine as best you can even when you’re not home – it will make it easier for your baby to settle down in unfamiliar surroundings.