The benefits of massaging infants are felt by both the massagees and the massagers. Often referred to as touch communication, this intimate act between a parent and their child affects behavioral and early social development in infants while improving parents’ communication and ability to understand their child’s body language, and strengthening the emotional bond between the two.
There are also physiological benefits to baby massage. The gentle pressure and movement helps to improve circulation, and relieve infants of stress and discomfort caused by colic and constipation. Massage is especially recommended for newborns born prematurely, for both the emotional and physical strength the action helps to induce.
Because it’s so gentle, safe, and nourishing for the skin, moringa oil makes the perfect massage oil for infants. I’d recommend starting with the Simplicity unscented moringa oil, as added essential oils can be too much for a baby’s sensitive skin (though if you only have the scented varieties, lavender is the next gentlest option).
Choose a time when your baby is calm, as the massage can be over-stimulating for an already fussy baby. Right after bath time is a common choice for making massage a part of your daily routine.
Lay your baby on his or her back, and start by massaging their hands, making eye contact. Once you’ve established a connection, move to the feet, stroking the tops and bottoms of the feet and squeezing each little toe, but with very little pressure.
Warm some oil between your palms and “pull” your hands down the length of each leg a few times. Repeat with the arms. Then, using flat hands massage the chest with outward and downward strokes towards the sides and over the belly. You can also flip your baby onto their belly and perform a gentle back massage.
Learn to read your child’s signals. Smiling, giggling, and cooing are signs that they are enjoying the massage, while fidgeting and grimacing may indicate they’re uncomfortable. Understanding each other’s body language will enable you to communicate emotionally through physical contact even once the massage is over.