Infant massage is not only good for your baby, but for you and your partner to bond together as well. It provides a special time of communication between you and baby. Infant massage offers all of the important pointers of close connection and attachment between parent and infant such as thermal regulation, movement, smell, voice, touch, and eye-to-eye. The stroking of your hands stimulates the production of oxytocin, which is the feel-good hormone and reduces the stress hormone, cortisol.
The best time for massage is when you are getting ready to settle your baby down to go bed for the night, this will help them be calm while they are still awake but settled. You would want the room to be warm so that there are no cold drafts. It would also be best to be some place where there are no distractions for you or your baby, where you can play soothing music if you’d like and have a warm blanket for the baby to lay on. You can also use a little bit of oil or lotion.
Benefits of Infant Massage are:
- Improves general well-being
- Improves overall functioning of the gastrointestinal tract
- Improves circulation
- Enhances immune system function
- Helps to improve sensory and body awareness
- Enhances neurological development- coordination, balance, learning, and concentration
- Helps baby to sleep deeper and more soundly
- Helps to increase oxygen and nutrient flows to cells
- Improves respiration
- Helps to improve pain management- like discomfort from teething
- Helps with congestion, gas, and colic
- Enhances release of hormones in the body- such as the growth hormone
- Stimulates all of the physiological systems- such as circulatory, digestive, hormonal, and immune
- Helps pre-term babies grow
When you and your baby come in for an appointment with a Registered Massage Therapist for a session on infant massage and training, the RMT will show you massage techniques to use on your baby at home. This will be taught through hands-on teaching where the massage therapist will demonstrate by using a doll and you will do the techniques on your baby. You will be taught how to preform massages on your baby that will include the use of their arms, legs, belly, chest, neck, face, ears and back.
When doing the massage techniques at home it is best to know the stress signs and the comfortable signs that your baby is showing you.
|Comfortable Signs:||Stress Signs:|
|· Happy sounds||· Hiccoughs|
|· Bowel sounds||· Altered skin colour|
|· Glowing skin||· Unable to focus on you|
|· Relaxed breathing||· Restless|
|· Bright-eyed||· Irritable|
|· Able to focus on you||· Disinterested, straining, arching|
|· Liking stretching, sucking, clasping own hands and feet||· Crying- hungry, pain, sad, tired, frightened|
If your baby is showing you stress signs, then stop from massaging your baby and tend to them. If your baby is giving you mixed signs, then pause what you are doing, reassure them and then you can try again.