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Baby Massage - Tips & Practice

Massage is said to be the art of using touch to communicate with your baby. It's a great way to spend time with your baby and it can also help you bond with your baby. We'll tell you more in this article about the emotional and physical benefits and also share our best tips.


What are the benefits of baby massage?

Before babies are able to understand language, we often communicate with them and provide comfort through touch. If a baby is crying, for example, we will naturally hold, cuddle or pet him.

Infant massage was introduced about 30 years ago in neonatal wards to promote the development of premature babies in intensive care units. Some studies have shown that babies in intensive care units who were massaged spent less time in the hospital, had better developmental test results and had slightly fewer postnatal complications.

Daily infant massage has many benefits, which the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) categorizes as interaction, stimulation, relief and relaxation. Researchers have found that these benefits are not only for the child, but also for the mothers and the entire family.

Let's briefly describe these benefits here:

Interaction. Regular massage promotes quality time between parents and baby, encouraging feelings of attachment, love and trust. This close and early contact with parents can help develop empathy and trust in the child.

Stimulation. Infant massage stimulates all body systems - including the digestive, hormonal, immune and circulatory systems - as well as muscles and joints. Babies can have greater body awareness, which leads to better coordination and balance.

Relief. According to parents, massage can help relieve gastrointestinal problems such as colic and constipation, teething and growing pains.

Relaxation. Infant massage has been associated with improved sleep patterns in babies and their parents, as well as reduced stress hormones and increased feel-good hormones.


When should I start massaging my baby?

There are no specific guidelines for the minimum age at which massage can be started. Although care can be provided from birth in the home, some babies may find formal, structured massage too stimulating in the early days.

As far as massage classes for babies are concerned, it may be interesting to wait until baby is a few weeks old, when his routine is more stable and his behavior is sometimes more predictable. This will be more enjoyable for both parents and child. Don't hesitate to ask a midwife around you for advice if you are interested.


Preparing to massage your baby

Choose a time when your baby is content and alert, not tired or hungry, and interested in what's going on around him. This makes it more likely that he'll be ready to interact with you.

Try sitting on the floor, bed or couch with your baby safely on a towel in front of you. The most important thing is that the room is quiet and warm.

Find a comfortable position that allows you to make eye contact, without overhead lights, and where your baby is warm.

Don't hesitate to introduce massage after bathing and before bedtime, it will help soothe her for bedtime. Consider making it a wellness routine.


How to massage baby?

Before you begin, "ask permission" by rubbing a little oil between your hands near your baby's ears, and ask, "May I massage you?" This may seem a little strange, but your child will become familiar with this sign and know that the massage is about to begin. It also allows your baby to let you know if he or she doesn't want to be massaged.

It's a good idea to massage your child's entire body using different techniques. To help you get started, we've outlined some movements for the legs and feet below.

As soon as your baby is ready for the massage, gently take one of your baby's legs between your palms. Then, with one hand, hold your baby's ankle firmly. Wrap your other hand around your baby's upper thigh, then slide it down the leg toward the ankle. Switch hands and repeat. Always hold your child's ankle in place and use slow, fluid movements.

Next, take one foot between your hands. Use your thumbs to move over the sole of the foot, from heel to toe, one after the other. Repeat with the other foot.

You can repeat each stroke several times, always responding to what your child seems to enjoy.

And here are a few techniques in pictures:



What products should I use?

Fragile and vulnerable, toddler skin needs special attention to stay moisturized and protected. During the first years, their skin is immature. It has difficulty defending itself against external aggressions such as cold, wind, sun and dry air, and can therefore be easily irritated. We have an article dedicated to this subject here.

L'Mama Baby Oil de Pioupiou is a safe and ideal option for massage thanks to its soft touch and its nourishing side. Our product is dermatologically tested on sensitive skin, compatible from birth and very healthy with 100% natural ingredients. Used in massage, our silky oil will protect, soften and nourish the skin deeply and safely. It also calms itching and soothes any irritation.  

If you prefer a less oily texture, you can also use the Gentle Balm to massage your baby.

Some tips for use:

  • Take a few drops of oil or a dab of balm in the palm of your hand.
  • Rub between your palms and warm the product.
  • Massage gently in large circular motions - stomach, back, limbs...
  • Wrap your hands completely around your baby's body during the massage.


General and safety tips for massaging babies

We have summarized here some tips for a pleasant time:

  • Use safe products. L'Mama Baby Oil de Pioupiou is very suitable for massages.
  • Always keep one hand on your child when using products or picking up accessories. It's important to have everything within reach before you start.
  • When massaging your child's arms or legs, always support the ankle or wrist with one hand.
  • When massaging your child's belly with a circular motion, go clockwise rather than counterclockwise - it's better for digestion, etc.
  • Avoid massaging your baby immediately after a feeding. Wait at least 45 minutes, or until your baby is calm and alert - probably before bedtime or after a diaper change.
  • Use gentle but firm movements, without tickling.
  • Use massage as a daily routine for baby.
  • Follow your baby's cues to know when to stop. A massage can last 5, 10 or 30 minutes, depending on his mood. If she cries, squirms or falls asleep, these are signs to stop.
  • Remember to relax and don't worry too much about your technique. Speak softly, sing or hum to your baby, and smile to show him or her that this is a fun, gentle and loving activity that you can share.


Enjoy the moment!

If your baby doesn't seem to like massage right away, don't worry. This is a new experience for both of you and it may take a little time to get used to it. Try to do it for a few minutes the first time, then increase the time as your child gets used to it.

Photos : Mary Fernandez Studio for Pioupiou Cosmetics
References : IAIM, https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/health-daily-care/massage/baby-massage
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