By touch your baby learns about the environment, about you, and about how to experience pleasure. A gentle massage with pure plant oils will not only nourish and protect baby skin, but help to develop body awareness and a close relationship with you. Calendula Baby Oil and Calendula Baby Oil Fragrance Free are ideally suited to this gentle routine – warming, soothing and moisturising new skin.
Ideally, choose a massage time just before bed, to help your baby relax, to fall asleep more quickly and to sleep for longer. Deeper sleep means baby will be less irritable when awake, reducing production of stress hormones – which is good for both of you. Other good times are after a nap, or half an hour after feeding, but not too soon after a feed.
Get the environment right
Choose a warm, relaxed environment and get yourself into a comfortable position, with your arms and shoulders relaxed. You can spread a towel on your lap or lean over a bed or padded surface, as long as you are both comfortable. Prepare for the massage by taking off all jewellery and warming the oil in your hands. Leave the bottle in easy reach so that you don’t have to take both hands off baby’s skin when reaching for more oil. Focus completely on your baby – this is your time together.
Keep the connection
Start with gentle strokes, to allow baby to get used to what is happening, and talk softly and gently, with quiet phases of peace and calm during the massage. Use long firm strokes that don’t tickle. If you reach for more oil, or a towel, keep one hand in contact with baby’s skin.
Many babies really enjoy having their feet held and touched. If your child is one, then a simple foot massage starts by holding baby’s foot between your index and middle finger, a V-hold which allows you to use both thumbs for massage. Both feet should always be massaged equally and you should avoid applying too much pressure to the sole of the foot. Ankles, soles, toes and heels all get their turn for a warm, gentle and continuous stroke.
This can be not only soothing but helpful for digestion and muscle stretching. With baby comfortably on her tummy, slide your right hand from her left shoulder towards her right buttock. Before you finish the stroke, place your left hand on baby’s right shoulder and slide your hand down towards the left buttock. You should be able to get a fluid, harmonious, criss-crossing movement using both hands with a firm but gentle touch. Make sure one hand is always in contact with baby’s skin.
Early days give baby a chance to flex and extend limbs after months cramped in the foetal position. A leg massage encourages that movement. With baby comfortably on her tummy, start with your left hand on your baby’s bottom and wrap your right hand round the thigh to make a ring. Slide your hand down the thigh, gently twisting outwards. The oil should let your hand slide without pulling on baby’s skin – use more if you aren’t happy. You can allow very gentle traction on the limb, but always be aware how soft and unformed bones and joints still are. Let go of baby’s foot slowly to avoid the reflex of legs drawing back up towards the chest.
Physically and socially a gentle, regular massage will help to stimulate baby’s muscle coordination, flexibility and circulation, to regulate heart rhythm and breathing, to activate the metabolism and to create a more alert and socially-oriented child. These precious moments of togetherness will also foster a close, deep bond between you which gives pleasure, security and a shared enjoyment of life.