Transcript: How Can Baby Massage Help Baby Sleep?
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called How Can Baby Massage Help Baby Sleep? and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Often, when I’m speaking with moms about baby massage, they ask me whether it can help improve their little one’s sleep. So I thought I would put together an episode on First Time Mum’s Chat specifically about how baby massage can help with sleep.
Before I get started, I suggest having a listen to episode 67, where I spoke with a mom who practiced baby massage on her son and found it helped him sleep better. I’ll include a link to this in the show notes. In this episode, you’ll hear me describe a number of baby massage moves and techniques. If you’re anything like me, you may find some of these explanations confusing without any visuals. So I’ve put together a video where I also demonstrate what I describe on camera.
I’ll also explain how you can obtain this in the show notes at the conclusion of this episode. So please make sure you don’t miss out.
Now. Let’s get started on the episode.
Baby massage can be performed at any time, but it’s especially helpful as part of your baby’s sleep routine. According to the national sleep foundation, massage triggers serotonin production, which allows the body and mind to calm down. It also produces oxytocin, which is a hormone of love, but I like to affectionately call it the cuddle hormone.
So giving your baby a massage can help your baby relax and drift off to sleep. Have you ever had a massage where the lights are low and there’s soft music and it gently relaxes you and your thoughts drift as your body relaxes and you release all those tensions in your body and sometimes you even fall asleep and you feel that was great. Why shouldn’t we offer the same comfort to our babies? Massage has been around for thousands of years and today, we often think of massage as a modern day stress reliever. But if we go back to the roots of massage, we can find many benefits to sharing this age old tradition with our baby.
So let’s get started on preparing for massage. When getting ready to give your baby a massage, make sure everything you need is at your fingertips and use a soft voice when speaking to your baby and make sure you tell your baby before you touch them, ensuring them what you plan to do each step of the way. Asking your baby’s permission is so important and so many moms ask me, but how can you ask your baby permission?
Well babies can tell you how they’re feeling by looking at them and seeing whether they’re excited and they’re moving and they’re smiling at you and you will get to know your baby’s cues as you continue to massage your baby. The next one is preparing the room for massage. The temperature in the room should be approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re used to Celsius, like I am, that’s 23 degrees Celsius, with no drafts and as I said before, put on some soft music and another one that is really important is prepare yourself for this time with your baby. This is really important when you massage. Make sure that you are aware of your breath and how you are feeling before you begin, because babies pick up on your energy.
So if you are frustrated and stressed, then your baby may well pick up on that. I suggest you turn off your phone. Use this time to tell your baby what you are planning to do. And how much you are going to enjoy this special time with them.
To ensure your baby has no adverse reactions or allergy to the oil, please ensure you do a patch test on a tiny area of their skin, before you get started. You can do this the day before, you can do it half an hour before, or 15 minutes before, but it’s really important that you do that and you watch for any reaction. To do this, simply place a small quantity of the oil on their skin and watch for any evidence of reaction and then you’re ready to get started.
Before you start to place your hands on your baby, make sure they are warm and just think of some magical moments you have shared together throughout the day. It could be a magical smile or just picturing their beautiful face and remembering how it feels to hold them. There may be some negative thoughts that come into your head. For example, I’m a bad mom or thoughts of regret and guilt over moments of the day when you lost your cool and you let yourself and your baby down.
This is the time to tell yourself that you are a wonderful parent and you love yourself unconditionally or I love myself when I’m less patient. Whatever works for you, but it’s important that you tell yourself something positive. One of the things that I recommend to parents is to imagine a white light or a halo on the top of their heads and when you exhale, imagine it going through your palms of your hands to your baby’s body. This can do wonders for both of you as your baby picks up on your positive energy and if it helps you can close your eyes whilst you’re doing this.
This brings me to how baby massage can help your baby to sleep. A loving touch can be incorporated into a bedtime routine, even if your baby is not in that quiet alert state, which is when they are ready to engage with you. Here is a quick bedtime massage routine that you can do to calm your baby and help them to sleep better and remember to check in with your baby first, before you start and ask their permission. That is watching for your baby’s cues and seeing if they’ve got eye contact with you, if they’re looking at you, if they’re excited and if they’re not, well, just touch them, just hold your hand gently on their chest and just allow them to relax and if they don’t want a massage, that’s fine. Just touching them and holding them and making them feel secure can be so beneficial to helping them to sleep. So if you place both hands on your baby’s chest and just allow them to go heavy and relax, visualize your baby relaxing so you can also do some of the techniques.
So let’s get started on some of the techniques that you can do as a simple baby massage routine to help your baby to sleep. I like to start with the velvet cloak and this can be on their back or on their front and if you bring both of your hands all the way down the sides of their body and all the way down to their legs and just gently massage them down like that. It’s a wonderful way to help your baby relax. If you choose to start on the back, you just bring the hands all the way down, either side of the spine like you did on the front, but on the front, you do it on the sides.
This helps your baby to relax. It stretches out the back and it also increases circulation and tones their muscles. The next one I like to do is what I call stretch a leg and if you hold your hand in a C cup shape, glide the hand all the way down each leg from thigh to ankle, allowing your hand to mold the leg as much as possible. This encourages circulation in the legs and it encourages muscle development and it also relaxes your baby. It releases all those tensions in your baby’s legs.
The other one I like to do is shampooing the scalp and how we do this is we do finger circles with our fingertips over the scalp, just gently all over the scalp and this encourages circulation to the head and it’s calming and relaxing.
The other one is called the waterfall. Now, I used to do this in childcare all the time before I even realized it was a baby massage stroke, and it is a great way to calm and soothe a child or a baby to sleep and what we do is press our fingers gently on the top of the nose at the corners of the eyes and down towards the nostrils, gently pressing under the nostrils.
This can be so, so soothing and you can do it with one hand if you want to. The other one I’d like to mention to help your baby to sleep is gently rubbing their third eye area. To do this spread your thumbs out horizontally from the center of their forehead, towards their temples.
I hope that what I’ve shared about baby massage and how it can help your little one sleep was beneficial. It’s worth taking the time to add these techniques to your routine and it’s very, very simple to do. I realize that it can be hard to follow along when I describe how to do some of the techniques and you can’t see me, so to help you, I’ve put together a video of me demonstrating the techniques. You’ll find a link to this as well as episode 67, which I mentioned earlier, in the show notes at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/076.