When we were in the thick of colic with my son, few things calmed his body and quieted his screams. One of the only things that was consistently effective was massage.
We know how important touch and skin-to-skin contact is for babies, and massage can be a wonderful way to explore that connection. Massage has been shown to help calm babies, improve their sleep, and even facilitate brain development. There are also benefits for mothers: it can reduce stress and boost mother-baby bonding as well.
While there are professionals who provide infant massage, it’s also something that can easily be done at home and incorporated into the nighttime bonding routine. Here are some basics to get you started!
- After bath time, find a dark, quiet spot in your home. Begin by cuddling with your baby and talking in a soft, soothing voice.
- Lay a clean blanket on a soft, flat surface (we always used my bed) and place your baby on her back.
- Using a small amount of baby lotion or vegetable-based oil (such as coconut oil), start with your baby’s head and face. Use soft, gentle motions as you touch her forehead, temples, cheeks, and ears.
- Continue to her shoulders, tummy, arms and hands, and move to her legs and feet.
- Once you’ve gotten to her sweet baby toes, pick her up and cuddle her close for a moment before placing her back on the blanket, this time on her stomach.
- Repeat the process from head to toe.
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. She writes about all things toddler at Babble’s Toddler Times. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.