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Daily infant massage is not just a great way to bond with baby, it's also been shown to promote better sleeping, relieve colic, and perhaps even enhance a baby's immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development. To perform baby massage, grab a blanket or towel, and put massage oil in a nonbreakable container. (Test the oil on a small spot of your baby's skin and wait a day to be sure no irritation appears.) Start when your baby is in a quiet yet alert state -- not immediately after a feeding or when she's sleepy. Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together, forming a diamond shape with your legs. Drape the blanket over your feet and between your knees.
Undress your baby down to her diaper and place her on the blanket, cradling her head on your feet. Start with a gentle stroke from baby's head to her toes. If baby stiffens, cries, or becomes irritable, move to another body part or simply end the massage for the day. If she responds well, start gently massaging her body section by section, including her head and face, chest, arms, legs, and back. In general, keep your strokes gentle but firm (and not ticklish), using your fingertips for more sensitive areas, like her ears or face, and palms for bigger spaces like her belly and back. Try to build massage into your baby's daily schedule (anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes), and follow her mood to know when to stop. --Amy Zintl
The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.