Baby massage is one more way that AP parents can connect with their babies. Attachment parenting mainstays like babywearing and cosleeping are great for increasing bonding, but many parents in our culture don't think to use this simple and effective way to increase bonding. Baby massage has also been shown to help your baby grow and sleep better. Baby massage has been shown to increase weight gain and improve development in premature infants. While the Western world is still warming up to the idea of baby massage - many other cultures have practiced baby massage for untold generations.
Baby massage is a common practice in many of the same countries where babywearing and cosleeping are commonplace. It seems these instinctual ways to calm babies and increase their bond with parents have been all but forgotten in industrialized nations while they are common in cultures all over the world. In cultures from India to Fiji to Venezuela mothers carry their babies in slings and massage them regularly with coconut or other natural oils.
You can begin a daily ritual of after bath or before bed massage for your infant easily. The rewards of baby massage are many and you will soon find this to be a very pleasurable time of day for you and your baby. Baby massage can improve your baby's immune system and help flush out toxins. Massage can help to reduce gas and improve sleep patterns. Baby massage is also a great way for fathers to have skin to skin contact with baby and increase bonding in a similar way to a mother's nursing.
When you massage your baby be sure to use gentle strokes to account for their delicate skin. You may wish to use an organic oil such as almond or light olive oil or you can use a natural lotion to reduce friction and moisturize their skin at the same time.
Be sure that the room is warm so your baby does not get chilled during their massage. After bath is a good time for a massage when your baby is already relaxed and content.
Use a clean towel or soft blanket on your lap, a bed or other safe surface where the baby can not wiggle away and fall. An oily baby can be difficult to hold onto if they decide to make a dash for freedom.
Don't stress too much about your technique. While it is a good idea to read about baby massage or watch a baby massage videoso you can learn about good massage techniques, this is a time to relax with your baby.
Want to learn more about baby massage? You'll find baby massage books and videos below.