As regular readers of my blog will know, I’m a big fan of baby massage. Growing up in India it was just the norm, so it became part of my daily routine when I had my own children. There are so many benefits for both baby and parent, from keeping baby’s skin healthy, to helping to promote a strong bond between child and carer. While it’s often mums who massage their children, I really do think it can be a lovely activity for the dad to take up.
You’ll want to choose a time when your baby is not hungry, too tired, or, in the case of older babies and toddlers, desperate to explore! I liked to massage my children straight after their bath, to help put back the oils that the bath had stripped away. If there are other people in the house, you could move to a quieter room, where it can just be you and your baby, without any other distractions. Before you start, make sure the room is nice and warm, and there are no bright lights directly above the baby’s head.
1. Lie your baby on a warm, soft towel or blanket, that can be easily washed afterwards. You may also want to keep a nappy open underneath them, just in case! Have another blanket to hand, to cover them up if they start getting a bit cold. Make sure their clothes are nearby too, as you don’t want to be carrying a slippery baby through the house searching for a babygro.
2. Warm a small amount of massage oil between your hands. Talk to your baby, telling him or her what you’re doing and keeping eye contact.
3. Glide your hands down your baby’s body, using gentle, slow movements.
4. Support your baby’s ankle in one hand. Wrapping the fingers of the other hand gently around their thigh, slide it gently down the leg. Repeat a few times, before swapping to the other leg. Gently push your baby’s knees towards their chest, to help them release any trapped wind.
5. Use the same movement on one arm, and then the other, supporting their wrist in one hand and sliding your other hand down from their shoulder. Alternatively, you can just stroke the tips of your fingers down their arm, being careful not to tickle!
6: Glide your hand in a circular motion around your baby’s tummy, in a clockwise direction. This will help digestion and release trapped wind.
7. Turn your baby over so that they’re lying on their front, with their head to one side. Use large, anticlockwise circular movements to massage their back. Then smooth your hands downwards from shoulder to hip, on either side of their spine. Be careful not to put any pressure on their spine.
8. You can give your baby a gentle head massage if you wish, depending on whether you mind them getting oil in their hair. Use a very light touch and avoid the fontanelles (soft spots).
Babies’ skin is very sensitive, so you’ll want to use a light, natural oil, ideally nut free. You can use olive oil, sunflower seed oil, or a natural baby oil. The main ingredients in my Baby Massage Oil are rice bran oil and grape seed oil, both well-regarded for their hydrating properties. I’ve also added chamomile, which is very soothing, and sandalwood and myrrh essential oils. These essential oils are prized for their aromatherapy qualities – they can help to calm and relax your baby, and promote a good night’s sleep.
If you prefer a balm to an oil, the Baby Massage Balm is ideal. Blended with cocoa butter, coconut oil, cranberry butter and beeswax, it’s very hydrating and gentle on the skin. Of course, both the balm and the oil are multi-purpose. The balm can help to treat nappy rash, while the oil makes a great body and facial oil for mum!