I love baby massage – I did it. I teach it, I made a DVD about it. I tweet, blog and facebook about it. But I still found it hard to do all the time when my children were babies. Sometimes it feel like yet another thing you should be doing – in between the baby swimming, baby signing and baby brain-training.
But why do I love it so much? Because of the effect it has on mums rather than the great benefits it has on babies. Because the baby is calmer, more settled, sleep better and have less upsetting symptoms of colic life is generally happier and calmer – and mums feel much more in control and bonded with their baby’s. Research has even shown a reduction in Post Natal Depression symptoms. It is a gift to parents the world over!
So – here are five ways to sneak in a little baby massage every day.
- Nappy Time!You KNOW there are enough of these in the day and you have the added bonus of having bare legs to work with (unless you are a professional like me and manage to whip one off and one on whilst keeping trousers, socks and shoes off on your knee).
Keep a little oil in your chaning bag/change table/down the side of the sofa and massage both legs in a pull down motion, gently warming the legs and the oil up. Rub small circles and gently stretch and wobble the legs a little. Massage the feet – circles across the top and thumb strokes from heel to toe on the bottom. Spend some time on the middle section of the sole of the foot – this relates to the digestive sytem, which relates to wind, colic, constipation etc. Wiggle the toes in turn – go on – sing this little piggy! Bicycle the legs slowly and then both legs at once.
Finish the nappy change and you will have done a little bit of massage already!
- Soothing to sleepMany of you will be doing daily infant massage already – the gentle rubbing of the back through the vest, stroking the head, holding their little hands. The little habits you get into when you are trying to get them off to sleep. I used to stroke just at the tip of the girls’ noses, just between their eyes until they drifted off. Don’t think I would get away with doing that on them now!
- No need for nakedness!Sometimes the thought of getting down on the floor, undressing your baby (especially when they are tiny), getting the oil and both of you getting all greasy is a little, well, exhausting. So do a little massage in the morning when they are still in their sleep suits – gently rub their tummies in a clockwise direction, clap the soles of their feet together, bicycle the legs and play some little games.
- Pick the right timeIf you DO want to sit and do the full routine, then the best way to make it fit into your routine is to pick the right time – common convention says that after the bath is a good time – but frankly I beg to differ.
Of course, if you have a placid, easy going baby go for it – make massage part of the bedtime routine and you will create a habit that will probably last for years (although not once they go off to university) – however if you have a starving hungry, tired and festered baby at 7pm, plus husband to feed (how terribly 1950’s of me), other kids to get sorted and a million other things to do – massage is just not going to work.
Rather than say/think ‘my baby doesn’t like massage’ try to work out when IS a good time. Think about when they are happy, content, not tired, asleep or hungry. I know, I know, with newborns those periods are so miniscule they actually barely exist but certainly with older babies those times are more frequent. A common ‘good’ time for babies is mid morning and this way you get the benefits of a more settled nap AND a good sleep that night.
- Get someone else to do itWhy not delegate the baby massage routine to dad while you nip up for a nice long bath. If you have a DVD or download for him to follow you can leave your baby in safe hands and go and enjoy some me time.
Author: Helen Pritchard is an experienced holistic therapist, infant massage instructor and mum of two, with a passion about helping parents and babies in a holistic and accessible way. Her website www.newstorktimes.co.uk provides digital tutorials that take parents step-by-step through baby massage routines to help them reduce pain and discomfort and increase parent-child bonding. She even has a free colic & wind help video which you can download straight away.