Cheat Sheet

Baby Massage For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Baby Massage For Dummies

By Joanne Bagshaw, Ilene Fox

There are so many great reasons to massage your baby. It can help foster bonding, prevent illnesses and help relieve common ailments, as well as provide physical and emotional benefits for both of you. By perfecting some simple baby massage techniques, you can keep yourself from running to the doctor for every minor condition that creeps up and enhance your attachment to one another.

Physical Benefits of Baby Massage

Baby massage has so many great benefits — including on the person giving the massage! Following are just some of the ways that massage can promote a baby’s health and development:

  • Massage strengthens a baby’s immune system.

  • It reduces stress (including for the caregiver).

  • It stimulates the baby.

  • It increases sensory awareness.

  • It stimulates digestion.

  • It relaxes fussy babies (and nervous parents).

  • It promotes growth and weight gain in premature babies.

  • It stimulates neurological development.

  • For a new mom, it can prevent or help alleviate postpartum depression.

Emotional Benefits of Baby Massage

Baby massage offers many great benefits. Massaging your baby can have a positive emotional impact on both of you. Here are just a few examples of the many emotional benefits:

  • Massage increases your confidence as a parent or caregiver.

  • It promotes bonding and attachment between you and your baby.

  • It creates trust between you and your baby.

  • It teaches your baby how to soothe herself.

  • It teaches your baby nonverbal communication skills.

  • It comforts jumpy and nervous babies.

Conditions You Can Help Treat with Baby Massage

Most babies experience mild ailments, such as constipation or congestion. Baby massage is a great way to provide relief for your little one from these common developmental milestones. There are several physical ailments whose symptoms can be improved with massage, such as the following:

  • Teething

  • Colic

  • Eczema

  • Dry skin

  • Cradle cap

  • Constipation

  • Chest and sinus congestion

When you find yourself wondering what you can do to help your little one feel better in times of discomfort, keep in mind that your hands may hold the cure!

When to Massage Your Baby

You don’t need fancy equipment, a special room, or lots of free time to give your baby a great massage. Let’s face it. Moms are busy people. Here are just a few ideas for good times to massage your baby:

  • Work massage into your daily routine:

    • Give a massage before or after your baby’s nap.

    • Give a massage before or after your baby’s bath.

    • Take your baby into the bathtub with you and massage him while you bathe.

    • Massage your baby on the changing table after a diaper change.

    • Offer a massage while you’re talking on the phone or watching TV.

    • Massage your baby while you are wearing her in a sling.

  • Give your baby a massage whenever you have some extra time — even a few minutes — on your hands:

    • Offer a quick massage while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store.

    • Massage your baby when you go on a picnic.

    • Calm your baby down at the doctor’s office by using massage techniques.

    • Keep your baby happy when you fly on an airplane by using massage.

    • Pass the time during a long car ride by massaging your baby in his car seat (while someone else is driving, of course!).

Ways to Bond with Your Baby

Bonding with your baby is very important to his development. You can improve your bond with your baby through physical contact — not just massage. Here are just a few suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Breastfeed your baby.

  • Co-sleep with your baby.

  • Wear your baby in a sling.

  • Hold and cuddle your baby frequently.

  • Avoid long separations.

  • Make eye contact.

  • Bathe with your baby.

  • Swim together.

  • Respond to your baby’s cries promptly and compassionately.