Yes, You Can *Actually* Massage Your Baby To Sleep

by Emily Westbrooks

If you're a mom, or about to become one, you're probably looking to familiarize yourself with every baby sleep method known to man. I've been a mom for just over two years and I'm still trying to figure out how to get my babies to sleep. So imagine my relief when I found out that baby massage is actually a thing, and can can promote deeper and longer newborn sleep. So, how can you massage your baby to sleep? Experts know a few life-saving techniques that should help everyone in your home get the rest they probably (read: definitely) need.

Infant massage isn't complicated, but you'll want to study up on some techniques via videos on YouTube in order to know where to start. Thankfully, Parents also offers an informative video on infant massage techniques. Alternatively, you could take an infant massage class if you're not comfortable learning from the confines of your living room. In fact, there's likely one offered in your neighborhood. Infant Massage USA is a good place to start if you're interested in attending a class in your area.

Of course, there are a few tips you'll want to keep in mind before you start massaging your baby. First, the Baby Sleep Site suggests you use an edible oil like coconut oil for massaging your baby, and always test the oil on a small patch of your baby's skin before using it on his or her entire body. You'll want to watch for a sign of a reaction to the oil over the course of 24 hours.

Next, massage instructions found on Parents suggest parents, "Start when your baby is in a quiet yet alert state — not immediately after a feeding or when she's sleepy." There is also an opportunity to use infant massage as an opportunity to teach your baby that their consent matters because, well, there's no such thing as "too early" to have that conversation. Parents also reports that caretakers shouldn't attempt to massage your baby if he or she is already fussy, and either move to a different body part or discontinue the massage session if your baby becomes fussy or appears agitated by the massage.

The Baby Sleep Site reminds parents to take the following steps before attempting to massage their infants, reporting:

"Before massaging your baby, remove any jewelry, and trim your nails, if they are long. Always start your massage with the 'least invasive' body parts – the feet and the legs. From there, progress upwards."

For more in depth techniques, you'll want to either watch a few infant massage videos or take a class to learn how to better sooth your baby to sleep using massage.

So, is baby massage actually worth all that aforementioned effort? According to the Baby Sleep Site, massaging your baby has many benefits for both of parent and child, including better and longer sleep for your baby. "Studies show that infants who are massaged by their parents before bed tend to fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and stay asleep longer." The same site also reports that infant massage can also improve digestion and, as a result, reduce gas and bloating that can make a baby fussy and keep them from sleeping well. Infant massage can also relieve stress and tension for the baby which, again, can decrease the amount of fussiness your baby might be experiencing come sleep time.

Infant massage can also help strengthen the bond you have with your baby, by using physical touch to promote emotional development. And finally, massaging your baby can improve growth and development in him or her. In fact, according to the Baby Sleep Site, studies show that babies who are regularly massaged "show increased weight gain and improved development," as well as better immune function.

In other words, a quick massage before your baby heads to bed might, in fact, be worth it.

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