Infant Massage

Who knew your infant needed spa days too? Find out the benefits of an itty bitty massage.

Infant Massage

If babies could talk, they might say “rub my back.” Turns out there are tons of benefits infants gain from massage, including reducing stress (it’s hard being a baby), increased weight-gain, improving neurological development, facilitating parasympathetic nervous system activity, and much more, according to Neonatal Touch & Massage Certification founder Kara Ann Waitzman.

But before you go turn that changing table into a massage table, Waitzman gives us some tips to get you prepared.

Should the baby be a certain age before massaging?
Massage can be done at almost any age, but the methods change significantly with age. Initially, massage just involves long basic strokes of the back, arms and legs with a slow, rhythmical movement. The abdominal stroke may be used to help with gas and constipation. Once these are well tolerated and the infant matures, more advanced strokes can be provided.

Are there specific oils that can or should not be used on baby?
Oil is important to use when massaging an infant as it prevents dragging the skin and allows for a gliding that is pleasant to the infant. It is best to use oil that is green/toxic-free and scent-free. A light oil, such as grapeseed, coconut or safflower, is best, versus mineral oils. This decreases the chance of clogging pores, having reactions, and possible long-term unknown consequences. I personally recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby Oil.

Are there any points on the baby's body that benefit most from being massaged?
It is best to start with the least sensitive area and move toward the more sensitive areas. So, starting with long strokes down the back is a good way to start. The hands, feet and face are the most sensitive areas. Oil should not be used on the face, and this is an area you should only do after the infant is older and demonstrates a positive response to touching.

Are there dangers in massaging an infant?
Massage should be done WITH the infant, not TO the infant. It is a dance of listening to the infant and responding likewise. If the massage is not done in this manner, the infant could become defensive and aversive to touch. Massage should not be done if the infant has a fever or active infection of any type, as massage could spread the infection. There are other specific medical conditions that massage is contraindicated for as well, but these are not typical in most infants.

How much pressure should you apply? Is there a good way to gage?
Research shows infants respond best to a gentle, but firm pressure--not too hard and not too soft! This means firmer than a light stroke that tickles or just moves hair cells, but not so firm that you are dragging the skin. Gliding with oil is important.

Find out more about Kara Waitzman and neonatal massage here.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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