Baby massage: A great way to bond with your baby
Every little moment you spend with your baby will strengthen the love and beautiful relationship between you and your little one. Both your baby and you will experience a close connection with the skin to skin contact during massage. Always maintain eye contact, talk and sing to your baby. It is good to involve your husband as well, as it makes the bond stronger.
Read more about the benefits of massage.
Things to note before you start massaging
The best time for baby massage is when your baby is awake and in a good mood. Avoid massaging immediately after a meal. Pay attention to see if baby is enjoying it. If your baby is unhappy he/she will turn the head, suck in the cheeks, grimace or cry. If this happens, try again later when your baby is in a better mood. Otherwise, you are ready to go. When you massage remember to use gentle, light movements. Using baby lotion or oil will help reduce the friction and make the massage smooth and soothing.
Step by Step Baby Massage
Start stroking your baby's head right down to his/her cheeks and to the bottom part of his/her chin. Massage his/her scalp gently with small circular movements. (In newborns the soft spot (fontanel) on baby's head should be avoided during massage)
Apply gentle strokes with both hands sliding alternately down over your baby's abdomen, from neck to groin right up to the toes. Don't forget to establish eye contact, talk or sing to your baby as you massage him/her.
Hands and Arms
Take your baby's hand and wrist in your one hand and with your other hand start massaging gently from your baby's shoulder and down the upper arm to the elbow. Repeat the same massage movements on baby's other side. Now do the same starting from the elbow to wrist, on both sides. Massage your baby's palm gently with your thumb. Make a circular motion and let your index finger and your thumb slide between your baby's fingers, one at a time.
Place your baby facing down on the stomach. Start from the neck with both hands all the way down across the back and then the legs, by drawing a spiral with your fingertips on both sides of the spine. Then stroke your baby from the neck and towards the shoulder blades. Finally, allow your hands to slide down over the baby's back. Avoid massaging directly on the spine
The legs are massaged in the same way as the arms: stroke with hands alternately down over thigh to knee and then from the knee to the ankle. Avoid massaging the kneecaps. Stroke down with a single movement from the thigh to the heel. Do the same with the other leg.
Hold your baby's foot between your fingers. Stroke the sole of the foot with your thumbs, start from the heel to the toes and back. Massage the entire sole of the foot lightly with small circular movements. Remember also the heel. Roll each toe gently between your fingers. Stroke the instep, from the toes to the ankle
How bedtime rituals can help your baby fall asleep faster
Don't stimulate babies when they show signs of tirednessBabies need your support to sleep. When they lose interest in their surroundings, yawn, rub their eyes or become irritable, help them to become calm and relaxed. They should also be put down relatively quickly to avoid overtiredness.
Babies need predictability when it comes to sleep
Babies need to be made to sleep in familiar places i.e. in their cradle, cot or bed. Sing the same song every night. Remember repetitions make you feel secure.
Teach baby the difference between day and night
At night, draw the curtains, use a dim light, keep noise level low and make sure there are not many distractions in the room. Avoid too much eye contact as well.
Place a soft cuddly toy next to your baby...
so your baby will learn to find comfort in something other than your body or heartbeat.
Your baby will eventually link to sleep if he/she sees familiar things associated with sleep.
Read more about understanding infant sleep.