If a warm and gentle hug can calm your crying child, imagine what wonders can a massage does to childcare. Infants cry all the time, face poor night sleep, and don’t have the ability to communicate with us. This can be resolved by giving your infant a daily massage right. It is said to massage (Touch) is the art of healing.
Massage Therapy had introduced to the west in the 19th century. But it has an old history, originating in 300BC in India. In Ayurvedic medicine, massage was incorporated to heal body ailments, as they believe mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. Later, it was introduced in china and Egypt.
Modern science is starting to explore more about massage benefits to instill in our life to heal diseases. Apart from healing adults and elderly people, massage therapy or touch therapy is equally vauable in infant care. It improves their overall well-being and helps build a connection with their parents through touch.
Benefits of massage for infants
1. Helps in weight gain
The massage when done gently with oil on the belly aids blood circulation in the body. Try stroking towards the heart, from where comes the blood containing nutrients. We love these tips from Baby 101 on how to perform an infant massage.
The food your baby has contains nutrients that should be transferred to each cell of the body for proper growth and weight. Increased blood circulation by full body massage boosts nutrient transfer to every cell of the body. Some research suggests through massage, weak or premature babies can gain healthy weight. Baby massage should be done once a day or on alternative days.
Massaging an infant’s stomach helps in dealing with puking, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It helps the infant to release gastric gas which calms the irritated child.
2. Improves Immunityto fight diseases
If you massage your infant regularly, you are helping their muscles to work efficiently. Infants lie down all the time, which could cause stiffness in the muscles. This can restrict your baby's organs to work properly resulting in low immunity and diseases.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, infant massage also has a positive impact on treating jaundice naturally, which is very common in newborns.
If your child is suffering from flu and chest congestion, gently massage them. This may aid in shallow and slow breathing which is helpful to combat infection.
3. Bonding with parents develops a child's brain
One of the things that helps build strong bonds between parents and their babies is gentle parent and child interaction through touch and communication.
Massage is simple…look for your infant’s clue. See if they are willing to get a massage. Don’t try infant massage when they are being cranky.
Massage your baby, talk to them, smile at them, and hold them.
Massage and gentle, loving touch increases activity in that part of the brain, whose function is to interact with the environmental signals and pass these signals to the brain. When a child gets care from parents, they began to know how to respond to their surroundings. This sharpens their intellect and communication skills.
Massaging has a soothing effect on the nervous system, which lowers the accelerated heart rate. Massaging the baby lowers the muscle tension that aids in relaxation. Blood circulation increases in the brain which releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphin. The latter works as a natural pain killer that reduces the stress on the child and ensures the elevated mood.
Oxytocin is also known as ‘the cuddle hormone” and the ‘love hormone.” This is released after childbirth and after building bonds through physical touch with your infant.
Reflexology is feet massage; feet are the map for all the internal body organs. If you are eager for your infant to relax, try including a gentle foot massage in their bedtime routine.
5. Strengthens bones and builds muscles
A child's bones are fragile, however stronger bones are crucial for a child to crawl and walk. The only thing you can do here besides feeding them is legs and arms massage to enhance their muscle tonicity.
Infant massage can prevent arthritis, muscle cramps, and muscle swelling. It increases blood flow in that area, which advances nutrient supply there and consequently stronger bones.
New research suggests, babies who get regular massages during the early years of life are fast in crawling and walking.
How to massage your infant at home
- During the winter season adjust to a cozy environment for massage. Warm up your hands, so your touch feel more relaxing to your baby.
- Start with gentle hands, preferably start from the legs and go in an upward direction.
- Massage the feet’s soles and hands in a lengthening stroke.
When to start baby massage
- There is no hard and fast rule for how many times you should give a baby massage. It could be once or twice a day, before or after taking bath, or before sleeping. If your baby suffers from poor night's sleep, then go for a massage at night.
- Begin infant massage after a couple of weeks of birth. When your baby starts to show you a response. Avoid massaging when a child is crying, hungry, or cranky. Look for a time when your infant is alert, don’t forget to engage with them by making eye contact.
- Most mommies worry about massaging their baby’s back. It’s normal to lie down baby on their stomach to give a back massage. Just be alert for the baby cues before massaging. You will know if they’re not enjoying it.
Which oil should be used for infant massage
- Any organic oil that is natural and less greasy is ideal for a child massage.
- Avoid artificial oils that contain paraben, because a children and babies tend to lick their hands.
- Coconut oil, mustard oil, olive oil (in winters), almond oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil are best for massage.
- Coconut helps in reducing inflammation, muscle tension, and skin dryness. It acts as an organic moisturizer.
- Avoid using nuts oil if your child shows a reaction or if your family is allergic to nuts.
- Make sure the oil is room temperature or warm, but ensure it’s not hot to the touch - babies skin is extremely sensitive.
We’ve just scratched the surface, infant massage has many other physical and emotional benefits for your baby.
You will not only bond with your baby in a more meaningful way, but help them feel protected, aid their growth, and strengthen immunity, but it also secures relaxation and calmness and may help them sleep more soundly at night (what parent doesn’t want that?!).