The Benefits of Infant Massage

Infant massage is a wonderful way to nurture and bond with your baby while providing some amazing health benefits. When you first start giving your baby massages they might fight you, but I promise if you start small and keep trying, they’ll love it. Infants communicate with their bodies, and massage can help you learn to listen not only for sounds but also listen for non-verbal cues through touch.

Some of the health benefits of regular infant massage include relaxation and better sleep, reduced crying, and a positive impact on stress hormone production. It also helps improve body awareness and can strengthen digestive, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems. A nurturing touch can even help baby feel better when they’re experiencing pain from teething, congestion, gas or colic.

Babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from infant massage–the parent giving the massage also experiences health benefits. Being in a relaxing environment and massaging your loved one can help improve your sense of well-being, reduce blood pressure and stress, and improve your overall health.

There is no magic formula for how to massage your baby. My favorite oil to use is coconut since it’s safe on infants and allergies are rare. As they get older you can incorporate some essential oils as well. Massaging too soon after a feeding might cause an upset stomach, so time your massages for at least 45 minutes after a feeding so they’ve had plenty of time to digest.

Spend some time on the whole body starting at one end, such as the head, and very gently work your way through to the other side. Don’t forget to massage both the back and front of the body. When massaging the belly, make sure you massage in a circular motion starting at the bottom of the belly on baby’s right side. This pushes in the direction of the colon to avoid constipation.

My favorite time to massage my daughter has always been after her nighttime bath as part of her bedtime routine. Find a time when your baby seems to be content, calm and happy, and if your baby turns his or her head and becomes stiff, follow their cues and try again another time.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

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