Baby massage for sleep
When a baby or a child cries, or if a friend or loved one is upset, there’s no greater comfort than a hug. Touch is a powerful therapeutic tool that we all have at our fingertips – literally.
Because the skin is the first organ to develop, a baby’s most powerful sense, even when in the womb is touch. Massaging your baby from when they are young has a number of long-term physiological and emotional benefits. Regular massage can help build a baby’s immune system, boost his or her respiratory system, stimulate the circulatory system and balance the baby’s nervous system.
When we massage our babies, we also help release the hormone oxytocin in the baby, which regulates the cortisol or stress levels. In other words baby massage can help relax a tiny one, reducing periods of crying and so aid sleep – welcome news for any new parent.
As part of Sleep Awareness Week, we have put together this short baby massage sequence that you can integrate as part of your daily bed and bath-time routine.
After your baby has been bathed, bring your baby into a room that is warm and dimly lit. You don’t need any special equipment for baby massage. A changing mat and towel on a safe space are fine.
First of all, stroke your baby from head to toe. This signals to your baby that it is time for baby massage.
Next, apply a little natural, chemical free oil to the palms of your hand.
Start with both your hands in the centre of the chest and make a lovely heart shape, sweeping down to the baby’s abdomen. Repeat this several times.
Then placing your hands on your baby’s chest, sweep the hands up and over the shoulders and all the way down the arms, giving your baby an upper body massage. Repeat this several times.
One of the other advantages of baby massage is that it also helps strengthen the digestive system, so helping relieve common ailments and discomfort such as wind or constipation.
It is great to include a short tummy massage as part of your daily bedtime routine. Apply more oil if necessary and using your fingertips of one hand, make a gentle circular movement in a CLOCKWISE direction around the belly button. This helps move digested matter through the intestines and out of the body. Repeat for a few minutes.
Finally, move down to the baby’s legs. Apply more oil if necessary and then supporting one ankle with one hand, use the other palm to firmly stroke the outside of the leg from the ankle to the top of the thigh. Then glide your hand down the back of the leg. Change hands and repeat on the inside of the leg. Massage the leg several times then change legs.
Repeat several times.
At the end, slowly sweep your hands down the baby’s body, from the chest down to the toes to signify it is the end of massage.
Throughout the massage, you can also sing a soothing lullaby. Take your time with the massage and see how relaxed you and baby will be.
After the massage you can give your baby a feed and then put them into their bed. They should be nice and sleepy. You can also gently stroke their forehead, which also helps soothe them to sleep.