Sleep is so different for everyone. What works for one baby won’t for another, but massage universally has a very calming, soothing effect and promotes a deeper, more quality sleep.
Research from the Touch Institute in Miami on Sleep:
Sleep problems in infants decrease following massage therapy.
Infants and toddlers with sleep onset problems were given daily massages by their parents for 15 minutes prior to bedtime for one month. Based on parent diaries the massaged versus the control children (who were read bedtime stories) showed fewer sleep delay behaviors and had a shorter latency to sleep onset by the end of the study. Forty-five minute behavior observations by an independent observer also revealed more time awake, alert and active and more positive affect in the massaged children by the end of the study.
Field, T., & Hernandez-Reif, M., (2001). Early Child Development and Care, 168, 95-104.
How does Baby Massage help?
When babies are being massaged, they release oxytocin, the feel good ‘love’ hormone which calms, soothes and promotes sleep. Melatonin and serotonin, the sleep regulating hormones are increased, and cortisol the stress hormone is decreased. Massage also stimulates the vagus nerve which is responsible for all the resting and relaxation responses in the body.
Before you start
♡ Please make sure you have waited around 45 minutes after your babies last feed.
♡ Find a comfortable space on the floor, turn off the TV, your phone and feel free from any distractions.
♡ Feel confident that your baby is happy, well enough and ready to participate.
Practicing the strokes
♡ Make sure that you also feel happy and not stressed! Take a few deep breaths before you start. Shake out your arms and hands. Ask your baby if they would like a massage to soothe and relax them.
♡ Bring them close to you so they can see you and feel safe.
♡ Use a sing-song voice with lots of encouragement and praise.
♡ The slower and deeper* your massage stroke, the more calming and sleep inducing. A light and fast stroke will be stimulating.
*We never use deep strokes on babies. Start softly, gently and gradually sink your hands in a little deeper if you feel baby is allowing.
Essential oil use
If you feel you would like to and feel confident using Essential Oils, they can be very relieving for coldy symptoms and wonderfully supportive emotionally as well as physically. Essential oils must be used with caution, sparingly and never ingested.. Safe oils for babies are Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis and Mandarin Citrus reticulata. Lavender in particular is amazing for encouraging and promoting sleep. Roman Chamomile for relieving pain and Mandarin for ‘fractious babies’. Oils must always be very high quality and organic if possible. Here in the UK, I recommend Neals Yard to ensure safety and quality. Electric steam diffusers are also a fantastic way to diffuse the oils into a room safely. If you would like advice on essential oil use please consult a qualified aromatherapist.
Research from the Touch Institute Miami into Lavender Oil for Babies:
Lavender bath oil reduces stress and crying and enhances sleep in very young infants.
Very young infants were given a bath with or without lavender-scented bath oil. The mothers in the lavender bath oil group were more relaxed, smiled and touched their infants more during the bath. Their infants looked at them a greater percentage of the bath time and cried less and spent more time in deep sleep after the bath. The cortisol levels of this group of mothers and infants significantly decreased, confirming the behavioral data showing increased relaxation of the mothers and their infants. These findings support a body of research showing the relaxing and sleep-inducing properties of lavender aroma*
Field, T., Cullen, C., Largie, S., Diego, M., Schanberg, S. & Kuhn, C. (2008). Early Human Development, 84, 399-401.
*I have included this research out of interest but please be aware that Lavender Essential Oil in the bath could be ingested by your baby and must be monitored with caution. If you would like to try a bath with lavender oil - One or two drops maximum of Lavender EO must be mixed into a tablespoon of milk before adding into the bath. The fat in the milk disperses the oil so that the Lavender oil doesn’t ‘sit’ on the top of the bath water.
Try this short wind down routine in the video and let me know how you get on ♡
I really hope this helps. Please let me know if you have had any success. Good luck!
Love Lucy ♡