What is baby massage?
Baby massage is gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body with your hands. As part of your massage routine, you can also gently manipulate your baby’s ankles, wrists and fingers.
The soothing strokes of your hands stimulate the production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin in you, your baby and even your partner if he’s watching. Oxytocin is the hormone that gives you that warm, loving feeling when you hold your baby close or breastfeed her.
Why Massage Your New Baby?
To help him breathe more rhythmically Infants often have irregular breathing patterns, but because the skin is the largest organ of the human body and it’s rich in nerve endings, massage can help.
To stimulate growth-promoting hormones Pediatricians have long known that babies who are touched a lot thrive. Thriving doesn’t just mean growing bigger, it means growing to your fullest potential — physically, intellectually and emotionally. A study by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine found that premature babies receiving three 15-minute massages per day for five days showed a 53 percent greater daily weight gain than unmassaged babies.
To build his brain Studies show that newborns receiving extra touch experience enhanced neurological development. Since the brain grows fastest in the first year, that’s the time when it’s smart to give your child extra touch.
To boost his immunity A study of human infants 10 weeks old showed that infants whose backs were massaged by their mothers experienced fewer colds and fewer occurrences of diarrhea. Conversely, touch deprivation negatively affects the immune system. Touch enhances secretion of digestive hormones and helps the baby’s digestive system work more efficiently.
To relieve stress Researchers believe that one cause of colic is sensory overload. A stressed baby will cry. Infant massage can significantly reduce this stress by reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
When is the best time to massage my baby?
Try to pick a time when your baby is between feeds. Then she won’t be too hungry or too full. It’s also best not to start just before her nap. A good time to massage your baby is when she is awake, but settled.
If your baby is sleeping and feeding often you may wonder when this golden time for massage is going to come around! You’ll get to know when your baby is most content to have a massage. You may like to make it part of your baby’s bedtime routine, perhaps after a bath and before a bedtime feed.
A massage before bedtime will help your baby to wind down after the stimulations of the day and become calm, ready for sleep.