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Massages are a wonderful way to relax and unwind after a long day or as part of therapeutic therapy. However, people often neglect the fact that messages can be just as beneficial for babies, toddlers and children in general.
This is because massages are widely advertised and known as stress relief tools and many adults don’t think that babies and children have stress in their lives. But the fact is that life is stressful for them, in their own way. Once baby is born, everything about their world is completely new and often shocking. For example, being hungry, sleepy and having gas pains are new and stressful things for an infant, learning new things is stressful for a toddler and even older children.
So, massages are welcome in their lives too.
Learn more about the wonders of infant and children massages and how they can benefit your family.
How Does a Baby Massage Benefit Infants?
Baby massage can help stimulate your baby’s digestive and circulatory system which can in turn improve their issues like gas, colic, constipation and cramps. The massage can reduce their tension and comfort them.
It’s a natural way to help your baby with many things:
It can relax or stimulate your baby
A massage can get your baby ready for sleeping and it will help them have better dreams. But it’s also an excellent start of the day and it can help your baby wake up properly, feeling happy and refreshed.
It will strengthen your bond
This specific type of contact can help you connect with your baby on a deeper level and it can make your bond a lot stronger.
Your baby will experience new things
A proper massage can help your baby understand their body much better and feel new things.
It supports the digestive system
A massage will help your baby feel better when it comes to colic, constipation, gas or any type of cramps. They will be more relaxed and feel much better.
Keep in mind that you should never massage your baby right after you have fed them or give them something to drink. Let them rest, just like you have to wait between meals and bathing.
Wait until your baby is one or two months old to start massaging them. Take a course to learn proper techniques. Ask your doctor if you have any questions, but baby massage is easy to do at home.
When Can You Start Massaging Your Baby?
It is suggested by some authorities in the field that you start as soon as your baby is born, but not in the sense of a real massage. For example, simply hold your baby on your chest. Newborns love bare skin to skin contact so try to cuddle baby shirtless while they are in a diaper. You can drape a blanket over their back if you're concerned about chill. Gently stroke them and relax.
Wait for a month or two after birth and then start using some common massage techniques, such as shoulder and full body massages. All movements should be extremely gentle, with very little pressure. Make sure that your baby actually likes it. They should be very calm and content when they get a massage. If you see that it’s making them uncomfortable, stop.
Wait at least for 45 minutes after feeding to do this. If they turn their head away and stiffen their arms and legs, this is a good sign to stop.
How often you will do this will depend largely on your baby. Some babies love it and they get massages daily or even several times a day while some babies dislike it and so the process is not very common.
You can massage your baby twice a day every other day as a start, but make sure to do what they like and only if they like it. It's not going to be beneficial for either of you if it's a stressful ordeal.
Best Natural Oils for Baby Massage
Now that you know about the massage and its benefits for your baby, you may be wondering what types of oils you should use. Before you buy products that are available on the market, you should first focus on finding a natural, organic solution that will suit you both.
First, decide which oils are natural and appropriate for your baby. There are several options here. There are also essential oils; make sure to check with your doctor if you are concerned about allergic reactions. Stick to known safe oils, such as:
Be sure to dilute these in a carrier oil in safe amounts; 3 drops to 1 ounce of carrier is plenty.
Massage oils are supposed to make your baby feel soothed and calm. Essential oils can introduce many additional benefits.
When thinking about the safety of your little one, you should first focus on the quality of oil. You should also not use essential oils if they haven’t been diluted with a carrier massage oil. Test the oil before using it on a small area of your baby’s skin.
Here are some massage oils you can use:
Coconut oil – This is the best massage oil for babies of any skin type, even if your baby’s skin is sensitive. It’s non-irritating and moisturizing. It also has a low allergenic potential.
Sunflower oil – This is a common oil in households which offers many benefits to babies. It’s good for sensitive skin and it can enhance hydration. It also offers anti-inflammatory properties.
Calendula oil – It’s a good massage oil for babies because it has anti-inflammatory properties but be careful not to use it too often because it may have a higher risk of allergies.
Chamomile oil – This is a good oil for babies but it can cause some allergic reactions if your baby is allergic so be careful.
When it comes to essential oils, they are not a necessary thing but can definitely improve your routine, even if you just use them once in a while. Make sure that they are really high quality essential oils – not fragrance oils. You should also learn more about them in the sense of which one can do what for your baby.
For example, lavender oil can help them be calm and enhance sleep while lemon balm essential oil might help them start the day happier and alert.
Can You Relieve Gas Pain with Massaging and Movements?
Gas pain is one of the biggest and most common issues for babies. They suffer from this problem because they have a lot of chances to take in air and they haven't learned how to let it go.
Luckily, massage can help.
Gently massage their belly and pump their legs back and forth as if they were riding a bike or give them a bit more tummy time. Warm baths also help.
A massage works best in a warm room where your baby won’t be cold, since you will probably undress them to some degree. You can use massage oil too – but keep in mind that babies love to put their hands in their mouths so use an edible oil or avoid their hands and wipe them clean after.
The next time your baby starts feeling gas problems, you can try these massaging techniques.
Put your baby on their back and start with a few leg pumps, like they are riding a bike
Warm up some oil between your hands and start with gentle strokes from their chest to their legs and feet
Starting at your baby’s shoulders, massage their chest a bit, then circle around the belly button with gentle pressure
Use both hands to apply gentle pressure to their belly to improve gas relief
This can help your baby let go of gas and resolve their tummy issues. It doesn’t have to last too long – anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes can help. It can also help your baby sleep better during the night. Sing a song while you do this or play some music.
Using Massage for Toddler and Child Health
Your toddler and older child can benefit from a massage too. They also experience stress and anxiety. So, here are some benefits of massaging your toddler.
It can help them focus – Toddlers often have a very low amount of focus, just like some older children do. This can be perfectly normal. However, a gentle daily massage can help them focus more.
Improve their sleep – With so much to do in the day and many things they learn, sleep can be a bit irregular for children. But a gentle massage can be a relaxing routine that will help your child sleep much better.
They will feel less irritable – Children are often very hyperactive and throw tantrums frequently. However, a massage can help them feel much better and calmer.
Make your bond stronger – Giving your child a massage can make your bond a lot stronger and it can give you that special time, just for you.
Many spas now offer these types of massages as well; be sure to do diligent research before booking an appointment. Use common sense practices, such as insisting on always being in the therapy room while your child is receiving any spa service. Just make sure that your child likes it – if they don’t, don’t force it because it can have adverse effects instead of benefiting them. Create a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere for you and your family.
Is your little one already benefiting from baby massage? Share some of your pro tips down below!