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In North America, when we think about massage, we picture adults going to a spa to relax or to a professional to rehab an injury. Many people have not even heard of the concept of baby massage. Cultures around the world, however, have practiced baby massage for centuries. We became intrigued with the practice and wanted to learn more.
Through our online research, we met Laura Lacey, a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Baby Massage instructor. We were immediately drawn to her gentle reassuring manner and her experience in this field. She graciously agreed to an interview to help us learn more.
The following is a summary of our chat. Learn:
- Why baby massage is important
- When to begin baby massage
- When you should (and should not) massage your baby
- How to get a link to a free video to start learning
Why are you so passionate about baby massage?
People often ask me if babies really need massage and the answer is yes! Touch is very important. And basically, that’s what massage is. Baby massage is loving touch. In my practice, I’ve found it to be a great way for both moms and dads to connect with their baby.
Is this a skill families can learn or is it best left to professionals?
The wonderful thing about baby massage is that it is easy to learn and doesn’t need to take a lot of time.
I encourage parents to massage their baby at least once a day. It’s a great thing to do after a bath or instead of a bath at the end of the day. But it doesn’t have to be that formal. Parents can add in a little massage throughout the day. It can be as simple as doing some tummy or back massage during diaper changes or at nap time.
What are the benefits of baby massage?
Baby massage has benefits for both babies and parents.
It’s a wonderful way for moms and dads to playfully interact with their little ones. The touch and gentle stroking can help to connect and bond more deeply.
Many parents tell me it helps their baby to sleep better. Others find it reduces their baby’s symptoms of colic. Still others find it to be a way to calm their fussy baby.
We encourage skin to skin care for newborns as there are many documented benefits. We find parents naturally begin to stroke their newborns when they are held skin to skin. What is the best age to begin a more formal infant massage?
Baby massage can be done at any age however I think it is best at about 6 to 8 weeks and before your baby starts crawling.
What type of oil would you recommend parents use for baby massage?
I say use whatever they have in the pantry. Olive oil, coconut oils, and almond oil are all good choices. Remember that babies put their finger and their toes in their mouths so it’s a good idea to use something edible.
If you are using commercial baby massage products, read the labels and avoid anything with mineral oil. Mineral oil is a petroleum by product, and we don’t want our babies to put that in their mouths.
Are there any contraindications to baby massage?
Baby massage should be a pleasant time so I wouldn’t start it at a time baby is hungry, feeling unwell or has a physical injury. Pay attention to baby’s signals. Babies show they are ready by making eye contact and appearing relaxed. If baby turns away or begins crying, stop and try again later.
The only “rule” is to always massage the tummy in a clockwise direction. We want to go in the direction that the intestines eliminate. Think of it as “going with the flow.”
Tell us some of feedback you have received from parents who have practiced it regularly.
I had a mom come for a private baby massage class with her husband and their twins. This was perfect because as I demonstrated they each had a baby to practice on. The class went very well. This mom happened to be a massage client of mine, so I saw her on a regular basis. Every time she came to see me, she would have a massage story about her twins.
She used almond oil to massage them and just seeing the bottle would calm them down. They knew a massage was about to happen!
As they got older and started crawling, she would massage one of the twins and when he was done he would crawl away and his sister would take his place. These babies were totally into their massages. I know that to this day they still asked to have their backs rubbed even though they’re now 4 years old!
If parents want to try baby massage, how can they learn more?
I have a free video on how to massage your baby’s arms and hands. You can find it here.
If you enjoy it and want to learn more I teach an entire online video course, Baby Massage – The Gift of Love. There are over 40 minutes of instruction, in short segments for easy learning – perfect for busy parents. Readers can use the promo code BABYCJ to get 10% off.
Where can readers learn more about your work Laura?