The Benefits of Infant Massage for Both Babies and Parents

As much as it might feel like you are already giving your infant massage, the benefits of developing an infant massage routine for themselves as well as for parents are numerous.

“Massaging babies regularly stimulates their central nervous system, builds muscle tone and releases serotonin that forms vital bonds between you, them and their world,” according to Elina Furman, certified infant massage instructor and founder of Kahlmi, an infant massage wand.

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One review study indicates that infants of preterm and full-term mothers receiving massage from caregivers tend to see greater weight gains as well as experience reduced pain levels, increased alertness levels and better immune system function. 1
Infant massage, however, “can also provide parents with an effective means to create a soothing routine” states Furman, noting its role in stimulating release of an additional feel-good chemical known as oxytocin which strengthens parent-child bonds and fosters attachment between parent and baby.

Offering your baby a soothing rub can boost both parenting confidence and your sense of competence in handling her. According to Furman, many parents report feeling more adept in handling their babies after consistently performing infant massage, which brings many advantages both you and baby can benefit from. Here’s how infant massage should become part of your everyday routine for both parties involved!

Basics of Infant Massage
At its heart, infant massage relies on touch – one of the primary senses that babies possess from birth. If implementing an infant massage routine seems intimidating or complicated, keep things straightforward: “the benefits are cumulative: more frequently you do baby massage, the greater its effects,” according to Furman.

Never Too Early- or Too Late for Massage Its As noted by Daniela Vega, cofounder and Chief Creative Officer of Storybook app which blends bedtime stories with massage techniques and soothing music for bedtime stories. “[Massage] can begin from day one of life without any contraindications,” according to Daniela; though always consult your healthcare provider first before embarking on massage journey.

Furman suggests beginning their massage for newborns by placing them on your chest, gently massaging their back, arms and legs while being mindful not to disturb the umbilical cord attachment site. When they reach three weeks old you can switch up and begin performing full body massage.

Keep Pressure Firm and Light
Use medium pressure when massaging your little one to avoid too-light pressure that leads to tickling, as Vega indicates. As baby develops and gains muscle tone, adjust the level of firmness accordingly, she states.

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Follow Baby’s Cues Parents might feel discouraged if their infant wriggles excessively; but according to Furman this behavior is perfectly normal. Keep an eye out for eye contact, smiling and alertness from baby as readiness cues for massage; “if baby turns away or begins crying it would be wiser to wait before performing massage” according to her advice. You know your child best so be observant of any indications when massage could provide benefits – after all you are an expert.

“Luxuriate in Organic Edible Unrefined Oils
While oil massage can provide a deeper sensory experience, using organic and unrefined edible unrefined organic oils like coconut or almond is ideal,” advises Furman.

Make the room warm In order to maximize the benefits of massage, skin-on-skin contact is best; keep the room warm so your child feels at ease while unclothed and without jewelry on you; trim nails regularly in order to avoid accidental scratches on both of you!

Study finds skin to skin interactions provide lasting advantages to children even into adulthood

Furman suggests short sessions for maximum effectiveness: you don’t need a full 10-20 minute massage session in order to do its work, she notes. You could massage baby while changing them or bathtime or while grocery shopping; even offering foot massage while traveling will suffice.”

Assist your baby by gently massaging their arms and legs during feeding sessions to relax them further and ensure more efficient eating sessions. However, wait at least 30 minutes after each feeding before giving a belly rub to avoid overstimulating him/her!

How to Give Your Baby an Infant Massage
Infant massage has many health benefits for babies, such as relieving colic or gas pains, improving sleep patterns and teething pain relief as well as sinus pressure reduction. Here are a few techniques you could try with your little one:

Belly massage for constipation and gas According to Furman, belly massage should be practiced regularly to keep babies regular. At least 30 minutes post feeding, stroke from right to left in clockwise circles on baby’s belly while using both hands in unison as you continue massaging their belly clockwise and clockwise directions will help relieve constipation while alleviating gas.

“Baby foot massages can also help alleviate constipation symptoms. Simply rub your thumb around in circles while gently stroking from right to left across their foot from right to left and massaging their heel, and this routine should provide great relief from chronic constipation in babies.”

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Facial Massage to Assist with Teething and Sleep Giving your child a mini facial massage is a relaxing and helpful way to ease pain from teething or insomnia, according to Furman. Simply lay both hands over their forehead, trace down each side of their face toward their chin while making small circles along their jawline from ears to chin if your baby needs teething relief.

Infant Massage for Babies Colds If your infant has cold symptoms, place two fingers on each side of his nose and stroke down gently towards him/her to help release any pressure build-up in their sinuses and relieve their pressure.

Baby Back Rubs for Relaxation
“Back massage can also provide valuable tummy time benefits, while providing relaxing benefits,” according to Furman. To give this massage successfully, gently stroke down from their belly toward their legs using circular strokes until their legs. She recommends placing a mirror or small object near them on the floor as an added distraction and keep their mind focused while your massage continues.