Baby massage has been done over the ages by many different cultures (from India to China, over Africa and the Americas) as it has long been recognised to be highly beneficial in many aspects for the child. Some of the major benefits include the mother child bonding, building and strengthening the immune system, as well as increasing muscle tone and strength. Furthermore baby massage calms and stimulates the nervous system, can decrease allergies in the growing body and supports the sensitive digestive.
But where to start when you have your newborn at home and you are considering to start a regular baby massage routine? In this blog I will cover what you need to keep in mind when doing baby massage, but if you want to learn a full flow, routine, different strokes and discuss your individual needs please contact me on email@example.com to make a booking for a private consultation. On the Sunshine Coast in QLD I can offer home visits in which I teach you a full baby massage routine, which I will be demonstrating on my baby and get you to practice on your own child. Alternatively I can offer skype tuitions.
Anyways, before you even start setting up the massage it is very important to consciously choose the right oils to use on the young body. Commercial synthetic oils are not recommended as the skin is the largest organ of the body and absorbs all those chemicals and puts stress onto the young system, as these toxins will have to be processed and eliminated. The best oils to use are food grade, organic vegetable or nut oils. Simply use your olive oil from the pantry, or a sweet almond or coconut oil. Note that each oil has different properties. For example coconut is great in summer or for bodies that have heat, as coconut is cooling and it has some SPF, whereas Sesame oil (which is high in Vitamin E) is warming and therefore better for cooler bodies or climate. Other oils like Sweet Almond and again Sesame are the choice if your baby has eczema, and Olive Oil is nourishing and healing particularly for dehydrated itchy or inflamed skin. As you can see oil does not equal oil. It does matter what oil you choose.
After choosing your base oil it is important to consider therapeutic grade essential oils to use in your base oil. Please do not use any aromatherapy oils that you can buy. The difference with therapeutic grade oils is that they are ingestible and have beyond the aroma therapeutic properties as their plant / resin life and vibration is maintained through careful distilling processes. This is why I recommend Young Living oils as I found them to be the best in the market with highest integrity to the plants / resins and therefore the oils. The oils I chose on my own newborn are the following:
- To treat colic and wind pains: DiGize – 1-2 drops per 15ml of base oil, alternative chamomile or peppermint or lavender or dill or ginger a blend of all four – however peppermint is very strong you will need more base I would do 1 drop peppermint on 20-25ml of base oil
- Nappy rash (although since using this oil I have had none), after a bath or for every day use and before sleep time: Gentle Baby 1-2 drops per 15ml bas oil (you can add an extra drop of lavender if you have 20-25ml)
- Calming, relaxing, sleep, anxiety: Lavender or Peace & Calming 1-2 drops per 15ml
- Colds: Thieves on the back and under the feet, dilute 1-2 drops in 10-15ml
- Blocked nose / sinuses: Eucalyptus on the chest and back again dilute strongly like the peppermint at first to see how bub is reacting – approximately 1-2 drops per 20-25ml base oil
you can purchase the above mentioned therapeutic grade essential oils here https://www.youngliving.org/kindledspirit
So now that you have chosen a base oil and the essential oil that best addresses your baby’s needs, it is time to create the right ambience, and prepare the room. Yes that’s right. Think about it. When you are getting a massage wouldn’t you agree that the environment is as important as the massage itself?
Consequently make sure the room has a comfortable warm temperature, dim the light a little so that bub is not looking into bright light, you have maybe some relaxing music playing and have a fresh towel over a waterproof underlay (cause your bub is definitely going to have a pee if not a poo as well as the massage will totally relax her/him).
Last but not least make sure bub is fed. A massage on empty stomach is not going to go for long ;).
Now the important part – the strokes and the actual massage. Please note that depending on the age of the baby different intensities and durations are needed. For example a 2 week old will be easily over stimulated which is why I would recommend to only start with gentle face stroking and maybe doing the arms or the legs, whereas a 2-3 months old you can do the whole body. But again, get bubs slowly used to massage. No matter the age I would recommend to start with one area and build on that every day. For example you start with face stroking one evening, the next you do face followed by arms, the next day you do face, followed by arms and chest, the next day you do face, trunk, chest and arms, and so forth.
As I mentioned these little beings generally thoroughly enjoy massage and it will relax them intensely but on the flipside if you massage them too long they will become grizzly as they are easily over stimulated. Consequently tailor your massage length and intensity based on the cues your baby is giving you. With everything you do in your massage of your little one, just think about what you like in a massage yourself and apply the same to your bub, its as simple as that.
There are a few contraindications to massage, which you need to bear in mind. As massage stimulates the body’s circulation of blood and lymph it naturally assists in the distribution of nutrients, as well as toxins etc through the lymph system. Consequently if your bub is receiving medication, has high bilirubin levels, has a fever or a virus please consult with your doctor before engaging into massage. Massage is strengthening the immune system on a preventative measure not as a acute remedy. Consequently when your child is ill or has a cold do not conduct a massage unless you’ve been given the all clear from your doctor. With a cold you can do a gentle rub of the relevant essential oils on the back and under the feet but don’t over stimulate the body and the limps.
I hope you enjoyed reading about baby massage. Please give it a go, as both you and your baby will benefit from the daily experience.