If you’re frustrated with sleep training, or your usual sleep aids just aren’t doing the trick to help your baby get enough sleep, you may want to give infant massage a try. Infant massage has many benefits, including time to relax and bond with your baby.
How does infant massage help my baby sleep?
Studies have shown that infants who have skin-to-skin contact regularly cry and fuss less than infants who don’t. Touch may lower your baby’s levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Touch also sparks a release of melatonin, which regulates sleep-wake cycles. So, massage may help your baby relax, stop crying, or fall asleep. It’s also time you can bond and interact with baby in a loving way.
When is the best time to massage my baby?
Your baby should be alert, yet quiet. Don’t try to massage baby if he’s acting fussy. A massage may make it worse. Wait about an hour after feeding so your baby has time to digest. Incorporating a massage after bath time as part of their bedtime routine can be pleasant and enjoyable.
How do I give my baby a massage?
Create a comfy atmosphere. Choose a quiet, warm room with a comfortable surface you can lay your baby on. That might be a blanket placed on the floor in the living room, or the bed in a spare bedroom. Be sure to remove any jewelry and make sure your nails are trimmed and smooth.
Use a natural, edible oil. Some parents find that oil can help prevent friction between baby’s skin and their hands. If you choose to use oil, avoid using anything scented, which may irritate your baby’s skin and senses. Organic coconut or almond oil are good choices. If your baby has sensitive skin or allergies, or if you find oil too messy, you can skip using it.
Start with baby’s feet and legs, working your way up. Your baby will already be used to being touched on their legs and feet thanks to diaper changes, so this is a good place to start. Gently stroke each part of her foot and leg to stimulate circulation and relax muscles.
Continue to the tummy, arms and hands, face, then back. Gently stroke each area of your baby’s body for a minute or two each. Rubbing the tummy in a clockwise motion can aid in digestion. Kneading the arms, hands, and back can improve circulation and help baby relax.
Stay alert but relaxed. Be sure to watch your baby’s reaction. If he turns away, cries, or becomes restless, stop the massage and try it another time. If you’re using oil, check that you’re not using too much, or that it drips onto your baby’s face. Finally, you’ll know when your baby wants the massage to end. Be aware of his moods and end it when they are ready.
Learn more about helping your baby get better sleep
Are you curious about soothing or sleep training techniques other than infant massage? A sleep training expert can teach you baby sleep tools and so much more. Connect with us online so we can help you today.