Touch is one of the most well-developed senses when a baby is born. Your baby’s first emotional bonds are built from physical contact or touch.
This contact serves as a foundation for emotional and intellectual development later in life. Research reveals that routine touch and massage by a parent or loving caregiver benefits a baby’s growth and development, communication and learning.
Why massage your baby?
- It affirms the bond between you and your baby.
- Helps to improve baby’s sleep cycle.
- Assists the digestive process – this may help babies with winds and colic.
- Encourages baby’s development by stimulating the neural connections in his brain.
- Improves circulation.
- Keeps skin in great condition.
- Helps you to become a more confident parent.
- Infants who are touched and massaged regularly are 50% more likely to make eye contact.
Are there any baby massage rules?
There are no rules but there a few handy guidelines. There are many ways to massage your baby. Here we help with a few guidelines so don’t be apprehensive, go right ahead and do it your way!
Babies love touch – firm, gentle strokes are soothing and a great way to help baby to unwind and relax.
When is the best time?
- It’s a good idea to massage baby after a bath with JOHNSON’S Baby Bedtime Bath to help relax baby before bedtime. Choose a time between feeds as hungry babies will be grumpy, while babies that have just fed may throw up their milk.
- If baby seems unhappy, don’t continue with the massage; remember that she has the right to say “no”. Try again when she is in a better mood.
There are different massage techniques, but always…
- use firm, even strokes (light strokes may tickle, stimulate or even upset baby),
- massage the tummy in a clockwise direction to help with digestion.
- keep one hand on your baby as you massage to reassure her, and
- maintain eye contact to reinforce the trust between you.
So where do I start?
First off, get everything you’ll need ready:
- A soft baby mat or towel you can lay over your bed,
- JOHNSON’S Baby Regular Oil or JOHNSON'S Bedtime Oil Gel.
- a towel to cover baby with afterwards (a warm towel would be lovely in winter), and
- baby’s change of clothes or pyjamas.
How to massage your baby
Here are step-by-step instructions to give your baby a lovely post-bath massage to get them ready for bedtime.
Start with the legs and feet:
- Warm the JOHNSON'S Baby Bedtime Oil in your hands.
- With baby lying on her back, oil the front of her legs. Stroke from the ankle up to the top of the leg and down again gently. Do this 3 or 4 times.
- Now circle with your thumb slowly up her leg. Gently slide back to the ankle and repeat 3 to 4 times.
- Now your thumb is circling over the sole of her foot. This is particularly useful for babies with colic. Moving over to the top of her foot, gently stroke down in-between the small bones of the foot.
- Finish off by gently stroking her entire leg.
- Now repeat on the other leg.
Next move to the upper body:
- Warm the JOHNSON'S Baby Bedtime Oil with your hands and apply to baby’s tummy.
- Start with your fingertips on each shoulder, then draw fingers down to her naval, round to her waist and back to her naval.
- Using the outside of each hand, make paddling strokes on baby’s tummy as if you were scooping sand towards yourself. Or you can trace the inverted letters I, L, U on her tummy. I,L,U stands for I love you! The strokes on the tummy will help relieve gas and constipation.
- Gently move your hand in a clockwise circle around her belly button 3 to 4 times.
- Glide fingers back up to her shoulders and repeat 3 to 4 times.
Then move on to baby’s arms:
- Hold your baby’s arm, move gently up the arm with your right hand, circle her shoulder and return gently. Repeat 3 or 4 times.
- Hold your baby’s hand and circle the palm with your thumb.
- You’ll now repeat both movements on the other arm.
Now massage baby’s scalp but without oil:
- Place your fingertips and thumbs on your baby’s scalp but avoid the soft fontanelle near the front and very gently move her scalp over the bone.
Next turn baby onto his tummy:
- Apply the JOHNSON'S Baby Bedtime Oil to your hands.
- With your hands on either side of your baby’s spine, we start at the buttocks, move gently up her back and return lightly down her sides. Repeat 3 to 4 times.
- Place your thumbs on either side of her spine at the buttocks and again slowly and gently move up the back, this time with small thumb circles to the top of her spine at the base of the neck. Return gently down the sides of her body. Repeat 3 to 4 times.
And that’s it! Hopefully baby will be in a lovely and relaxed mood to ensure an easy bedtime.