Baby massage is a combination of techniques that provide supportive, firm (but comfortable) pressure with the use of Indian, Swedish and reflexology massage techniques on different parts of a baby's body using oil. It is a wonderful way for parents and caregivers to bond with their baby, promotes relaxation, and provides numerous health benefits.
The practice of baby massage has been used for centuries in different cultures, and it has become increasingly popular in recent years. Research conducted by Ayşe Gürol PhD, RN from science direct has shown that regular baby massage can help to promote better sleep, reduce crying and fussiness, improve digestion, stimulate circulation, boost the immune system, and promote healthy weight gain.
When giving a baby massage, it is important to create a calm and relaxing environment, using soothing music, dim lighting, and a comfortable surface. You should always use natural and gentle oil, to avoid any skin irritation.
There are different techniques that can be used in baby massage, such as long strokes, circular motions, and gentle stretches. It is important to pay attention to your baby's cues and adjust the pressure and intensity of the massage accordingly.
Baby massage can be incorporated into your daily routine, such as before bedtime or after a bath, and it can be a wonderful way to connect and bond with your baby.
The power of touch between parents & their babies has scientifically been proven to increase oxytocin & endorphins according to research done by the National Library of Medicine.
Oxytocin and endorphins are two hormones that are released during massage, both of which have positive effects on the body.
Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone" or "cuddle hormone" because it is released during physical touch, such as hugging, kissing, or holding hands. When a baby is massaged, oxytocin is released in both the baby and the person giving the massage, promoting feelings of bonding, trust, and love. This hormone can also help to lower stress levels and reduce anxiety, creating a sense of calm and relaxation for both the baby and the caregiver.
Endorphins, on the other hand, are natural painkillers that are released during massage. They can help to reduce discomfort or pain and promote feelings of pleasure and well-being. This hormone can also contribute to a sense of relaxation and help alleviate stress and anxiety.
In summary, the release of oxytocin and endorphins during massage can help to create a sense of bonding, trust, and relaxation between the baby and caregiver, while also promoting pain relief, reducing stress levels, increasing immune function, improving mood and overall well-being.
Massaging and the benefits to each system of the body:
2. Digestive / Urinary
- Improves lung function, aiding in the release of mucous from the walls of the bronchi and congestion in the sinuses.
3. Cardiovascular / Lymphatic
- Increases weight gain in low birth weight babies.
- Provides relief for babies who suffer from colic, constipation and reflux.
- Aids in the elimination process through the kidneys and bladder.
- Releases tension in muscles.
- Improves circulation.
- Delivers nutrients and oxygen to cells to prompt healing.
- Prevents fluid build-up
- Strengthens the immune system
- Aids in the defence against disease.
- Enhances the function of the left and right brain hemispheres.
- Improves quality of sleep.
- Reduces stress.
- Increases dopamine.
- Relieves pain.
- Stimulates new synaptic connections in the brain, which enhances gross motor skills and cognitive functions.
- Aids in teething.
- Improves brain and body connection.
- Reduces postnatal depression/depression.
- Releases toxins.
- Improves range of movement.
- Relaxes muscles.
(with the use of the right oils)
- Nourishes the skin.
- Provides a protective layer from environmental stimuli.
- Reduces symptoms of eczema, rashes and/or other skin conditions.
- Reduces cradle cap.
What oil do you recommend for baby massage?
When it comes to choosing oils for baby massage
, it's important to use oils that are safe, gentle, and nourishing for your baby's delicate skin. There are a few questions to ask yourself before applying the oil to your baby's skin.
- Can this oil be ingested?
It's possible that during a baby massage, a baby's hands or feet may end up in their mouth. While it's generally not recommended for babies to ingest oils, if a small amount of oil is accidentally ingested during a massage, it's unlikely to cause harm. It's always a good idea to monitor your baby during a massage and to stop the massage if your baby seems uncomfortable or begins to show signs of irritation.
- Are these oils organic and/or pesticide-free?
A good way to minimise your baby's exposure to potentially harmful chemicals is to choose organic and/or pesticide-free oils as these are produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, and are typically grown in a more environmentally sustainable way. These oils are generally considered safe for use on the skin and are less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions than oils that are produced with synthetic chemicals. When choosing organic or pesticide-free oils for baby massage
, it's important to look for products that are certified by reputable organisations, such as the www.aco.net.au
and the www.austorganic.com
These certifications ensure that the oils are produced without the use of harmful chemicals and meet strict standards for quality and purity.
- How was the oil extracted from the source?
Extracting oil from its original source is an important step in producing high-quality oils. The quality and purity of the oil can depend on the method of extraction and the quality of the natural material used. Cold-pressed oils, for example, are extracted using a mechanical method that does not involve heat or chemicals, resulting in a pure, unrefined oil with a higher nutrient content.
In the context of baby massage, using oils extracted from their original source means using natural, unprocessed oils that are free from synthetic chemicals and additives. This can help ensure that the oils are safe and gentle for a baby's delicate skin.
Cold pressed oils
Cold-pressed oils are oils that are extracted from nuts, seeds, or fruits using a mechanical method, such as pressing or crushing, without the use of heat or chemicals. The oils are extracted by pressing the seeds, nuts, or fruits at a low temperature, usually below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold-pressed oils are often preferred over other types of oils because they retain more of the natural nutrients from the source material. Heat and chemical extraction methods can destroy or alter some of the beneficial compounds in the oil.
Some examples of cold-pressed oils include:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Sunflower oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Pumpkin seed oil
You should always do a patch test before using any new oil on your baby's skin, to make sure there are no adverse reactions.
Allergies to oils
An allergic reaction to oils can occur when the immune system overreacts to certain proteins or chemicals found in the oil. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to oils can range from mild to severe and can include:
- Skin rash, hives or eczema
- Itching or swelling of the skin
- Sneezing or runny nose
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting
- Anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can cause swelling of the throat, difficulty breathing, and a rapid heartbeat
If you have a known allergy to certain oils, it is important to avoid them and check the ingredient list of any product you use. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after coming into contact with any oils, seek medical attention right away.
How does massage help alleviate colic?
Massage can be a helpful tool for managing colic in babies. Colic is a condition that causes excessive crying and fussiness in infants, and it can be very distressing for both the baby and the parents. Here are some ways massage can help with colic:
A study, conducted by the Iran University of Medical Sciences in 2016
- Promotes relaxation: Massage can help promote relaxation in babies, which can help reduce the symptoms of colic.
- Stimulates digestion: Massage can help stimulate the digestive system, which can be beneficial for babies who are experiencing digestive discomfort.
- Relieves gas and constipation: Massage can help relieve gas and constipation, which are common causes of colic in babies.
- Enhances bonding: Massage can be a great way for parents to bond with their babies, which can be especially helpful for reducing stress and anxiety in both the baby and the parent.
, compared the effects of baby massage to those of rocking techniques. The study found that both techniques were effective in reducing colic symptoms, but that baby massage had a greater impact on reducing colic symptoms after just one week of treatment.
Can I massage my baby, if they suffer from any skin conditions?
If your baby has a skin condition, such as eczema, psoriasis, or diaper rash, it's important to take extra care when massaging them. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Consult with a healthcare provider: Before starting any massage therapy, it's important to consult with your baby's healthcare provider to make sure it's safe and appropriate for your baby's specific condition.
- Use gentle, non-irritating products: When massaging your baby, use gentle, non-irritating products that are specifically designed for babies with sensitive skin. Avoid using products that contain fragrances, dyes, or other harsh ingredients that can irritate your baby's skin.
- Be gentle: Use a light touch when massaging your baby, especially if they have a skin condition. Avoid using too much pressure or rubbing too vigorously, which can cause further irritation or discomfort.
- Avoid areas of inflammation: If your baby has areas of inflammation or broken skin, avoid massaging those areas, as it can further irritate the skin and cause discomfort.
- Focus on other parts of the body: If your baby's skin condition is localised to a specific area, focus on massaging other parts of the body instead. For example, you can massage their feet, legs, arms, or back.
- Monitor your baby's reaction: Pay attention to your baby's reaction during and after the massage. If they seem uncomfortable or their skin appears to be getting worse, stop the massage and consult with your healthcare provider.
My baby spews a lot, what could this be? And how can I help?
Reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a common condition in infants and young children where stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus. In infants, the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach is not fully developed, making it easier for stomach contents to flow back up.
Reflux in infants is typically not a cause for concern and usually resolves on its own by the time the infant is 12-18 months old. However, in some cases, reflux can be more severe and may require treatment. It's important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause of your baby's symptoms
Reflux can cause a range of symptoms, including spitting up, fussiness during or after feedings, irritability, poor weight gain, coughing or choking, refusing to eat, and sleep disturbances.
Massage can be a helpful therapy for reflux in infants. Here are some ways in which massage can help with reflux:
- Promotes relaxation: Massage can help promote relaxation and reduce tension in the baby's muscles. This can help to alleviate some of the discomfort associated with reflux.
- Improves digestion: Massage can help improve digestion by stimulating the digestive system and promoting the movement of food through the intestines. This can help reduce the amount of time that stomach contents spend in the esophagus, which can help reduce reflux symptoms.
- Increases body awareness: Massage can help increase the baby's body awareness, which can help them learn to recognize and respond to the sensation of reflux. This can help reduce the severity and frequency of reflux episodes.
- Provides comfort: Massage can provide comfort and emotional support to infants with reflux, which can help reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Difference between silent reflux & reflux!
Reflux and silent reflux are two different types of gastroesophageal reflux (GER) that can occur in infants and young children.
Reflux is when the contents of the stomach flow back up into the esophagus and cause visible symptoms such as spitting up, vomiting, or regurgitation. Reflux is often accompanied by symptoms such as fussiness, poor weight gain, and sleep disturbances.
Silent reflux, also known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), occurs when the stomach contents flow back up into the larynx (voice box) and pharynx (throat) without causing visible symptoms. Silent reflux is often associated with symptoms such as hoarseness, chronic cough, difficulty swallowing, and a feeling of a lump in the throat.
While the symptoms of reflux and silent reflux are different, the underlying cause of both conditions is the same. Both conditions are caused by the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) not fully closing, which allows stomach contents to flow back up into the esophagus or throat.
The Effects of Baby Massage on Attachment between Mother and their Infants.
Effect of Infant Massage on Salivary Oxytocin Level of Mothers and Infants with Normal and Disordered Bonding 2021, national library of medicine, viewed 1 May 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8082987/
n.d., Australian Certificate Organic, viewed 1 May 2023, https://www.aco.net.au
Australian Organic, n.d., Australian Certified Organic standard, viewed 1 May 2023, https://www.austorganic.com
Iran University of Medical Science 2016, National Library of Medicine, viewed 1 May 2023, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934450/