Massage for Your Colicky Baby

Baby Massage: Benefits and How-tos

Baby Massage is one of the nicest ways to bond with your baby, feels good to your baby and you, and has wonderful healthy side benefits as well. I think the hardest part about baby massage is deciding who gets to do it. Oh – and the second hardest part is being jealous, because you will be wishing someone would do this to you as well.

First, let’s talk about the benefits:

1. Babies who are touched a lot THRIVE. Massage stimulates growth-promoting hormones, but when we say thrive, we don’t just mean growing bigger (although studies have shown in particular that premature babies who are regularly massaged during the first week have a 53% greater weight gain). Thrive means doing really well and achieving your full potential in all areas, including physically, intellectually and emotionally. Now, who could deny their baby this benefit?

2. Massaging your baby builds his brain. Your baby’s brain grows fastest in the first year. Studies have shown that newborn babies who are massaged regularly and touched a lot experience greater neurological (and brain) growth.

3. Touching your baby makes her healthier. Studies have also shown that newborn babies whose backs were rubbed regularly had fewer colds and fewer cases of diarrhea. And the opposite has been found true as well. Babies who are deprived of touch have weaker immune systems.

4. Massaging you baby reduces crying and fussiness and relieves colic. Okay, so if all of the above reasons are not enough, who doesn’t want a baby that is less fussy and cries less? When you give a baby a massage, you are stimulating her central nervous system. This in turn causes her brain to produce more serotonin (the feel-good chemical) and less cortisol (the stress hormone). As a result, your baby becomes more relaxed, and you become more relaxed, and everyone is much happier.

We could go on and on listing the benefits. Just a calmer more relaxed baby sounds good to me. So now, after you have made the tough decision on who actually gets to do the massaging and bonding, here are some tips on how to do it.

Baby Massage Tips and How-tos

The first tip is that there is no right or wrong way. So don’t worry that you are doing it wrong, or not well enough. Remember, just the touching itself is a major benefit and so the method is not as important as actually doing it. So, my advice is to just go for it.

1. Timing: Pick a time when your baby is alert, but not fussy. Do not do it too soon after feeding (you will only make this mistake one time. Causing your baby to spit up is unpleasant for both of you.) Waiting 45 minutes after feeding is good. And do not do it when your baby is starving either. Setting aside the same time every day or every other day is good if you can do it. Maybe it might be always after a bath, as an example. Make it a time when both you and your baby are relaxed and when you are unrushed.

2. Where: Some place warm is best – around 75 degrees so your little one is comfortable without clothes on. On the floor on a soft blanket is fine, on the changing table if that is easier for you. Make it a place where both you and the baby are comfortable, and there is not a lot of outside noise and distraction. A calm location, where the two of you can focus on each other. If you like, play some soft music in the background, or quietly talk or sing to him, tell him a story.

3. How Long: There is no set rule on how long to massage your baby. 10 to 15 minutes is fine, longer if you both are enjoying it. Your baby will tell you when he has had enough, by looking away, frowning or crying. If you don’t do anything sometimes but massage his legs and feet and then he has had enough, that’s fine. Remember there are no rules. This is a happy time for the two of you.

4. How-to: There are lots of videos and YouTubes that will show you techniques. Remember there is no right or wrong. You want a soft touch that does not tickle. In a follow-on article we will give you some techniques and things to try. Initially, just concentrate on what might feel good. And use some oil or lotion if you’d like to make your hands glide more smoothly. If you do use oil or lotion, be sure it is edible just in case.

You can massage your baby from day one. But if you don’t start then, don’t think you can’t start later. Any time is the right time to start and will bring benefits to you and your baby. So massage away and stay tuned for the follow-up article on technique.