Baby massage: massaging your baby

Babies love to be touched. A baby massage helps your baby relax.

You can take a baby massage course: a teacher will give you tips on how to massage your baby. You attend the class with other mothers and fathers who have a baby about the same age as your baby. Of course, you can also give your baby a baby massage at home!

That babies enjoy being touched is not surprising. Skin is our body’s greatest sense organ. In addition, your baby spent 9 months in your womb where it was safe and warm. Transitioning to the world outside the womb is a huge transition. Adults also perceive by seeing and hearing. Of course, we communicate with language. But babies mostly feel. They love to lie warm against their mother’s chest or to be stroked gently over their back. Baby massage is therefore focused on touching your baby. Love and warmth is a primary needs alongside food and drink: you can’t live without it.

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A baby massage is good and healthy

Your baby not only enjoys being touched and massaged, it also has health benefits! Baby massage has a positive impact on:

  • your baby’s immune system
  • your baby’s blood circulation
  • your baby’s sleep. Because a baby massage relaxes, your baby sleeps longer and deeper.
  • Your baby’s digestion. Baby massage has a positive effect on stomach cramps or constipation.

In addition to these health benefits for your baby, baby massage also has a positive impact on your bond. By touching and massaging your baby, you communicate with him without words. Touching strengthens the bond between you. And that in turn has long-term benefits: your baby feels safe and secure, making it easier for your child to develop a positive self-image and more self-confidence later on.

Warmth and calming

During a baby massage course, you will learn how to touch and massage your baby. Perhaps you would enjoy taking such a course with other fathers and mothers and their babies. Of course, you can also give your baby a relaxing baby massage at home. We give you practical tips on how to make a baby massage a success for both you and your baby.

  • Make sure the room where you are going to massage your baby is nice and warm and avoid drafts. During the massage your baby will be naked, besides, your baby can relax better if it is nice and warm.
  • Provide a warm and soft surface, such as the changing mat or a thick bath towel or blanket. Also, pay attention to safety: if you massage your baby on the dresser, make sure he cannot roll off. You can also choose to massage your baby on the floor (on a warm and soft surface, of course).
  • Don’t massage your baby right after a feeding. It is nicer for your baby if he can process his feeding first before you massage him.
  • It is best for your baby if he is completely naked during the massage since this is how you have the most skin-to-skin contact (your hands on his body). So remove his diaper as well, but keep a towel or hydrophilic diaper in hand for “accidents.
  • Massage your baby with baby oil or choose a natural oil such as almond oil or coconut oil (available at health and food stores).
  • Make sure the room where you massage is quiet. So as few stimuli as possible (no TV on, cell phone off, etc).
  • It is more pleasant to massage when you are not wearing rings and bracelets. Make sure you cannot damage your baby’s skin with your nails (so avoid hooked and too-long nails).
  • Try to maintain as much eye and body contact with your baby as possible.
  • Find out what your baby likes. Does he like it when you touch his feet? Does he turn his head away when you touch his tummy? Does he like it when you massage him more firmly, or does your baby relax more with gentle touches?
  • You can tell when your baby has had enough of the baby massage. If he starts crying, turning his head away, or getting restless, he has probably had enough. Respect that and stop the massage.

Bathing your baby

You can bathe your baby after the baby massage. Be careful: your baby is slippery because of the oil! Especially a “bucket bath” is nice for your baby after a baby massage: Your baby sits upright in such a tub, so to speak, but he can still move his arms and legs and feel the walls. Just like in the womb! After the bath, wrap your baby in a warm bath cape (you can pre-heat it by putting it on the heater) and dress him. Chances are your baby is now so rosy that he will fall into a long deep sleep.

Want to know everything about your baby’s mental development and find out how you can stimulate this? Download The Wonder Weeks app or buy the book.

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