Not only does massage help your baby to release stress which builds daily from new experiences, it allows your baby to relax.
Here are some tips so you can start using infant massage right now:
* Keep baby warm and cover areas you will not be massaging. You can massage over clothing (without oil).
* Before you begin, talk in a calm voice and smile at her. This will help stimulate her senses and make her feel more comfortable. Relax and take your time.
* Always ask out loud "Would you like your bedtime massage now?" Wait for baby's answer and respond appropriately.
* Warm your hands by rubbing them together. This will help her to recognize this cue as "massage time".
* Allow baby to move to different positions if she chooses to.
* Continue massage only as long as you and baby are enjoying it
At bedtime, you want to focus on using relaxing strokes. Relaxing strokes are those which move away from the heart. Being careful not to over stimulate at bedtime is best, so using only a few strokes can work wonders.
Start by placing your warmed hands gently around the top of baby's leg at the hip, cupping her leg, gently stroke downward towards her foot. Do not put any pressure on baby's knee or ankle. Then stroke the bottom of her foot and gently hug each little toe. Next kiss her feet, babies love this! Repeat on the opposite leg.
Go ahead and move on to her arms. Repeat the same soothing strokes. While doing massage, continue to make eye contact and check in with her. If you like singing or telling stories, go for it. Whatever makes you both feel relaxed is great!
If she is still enjoying her massage, continue. If not, feel free to let her be the boss. Babies are really good at letting us know when they've had enough.
Now, move on to her back. Stroke her back, starting at the shoulders, over bum and down the legs, showing extra care not to put any pressure on her spine. Continue stroking her back a few times.
Now, give her a hug and kiss goodnight.
The first time you give your baby a massage, she may only like to have a few minutes. This is perfectly normal. Make sure you check in with the boss, your baby, and soon you will be experiencing more restful nights!