Tag Archives: sleep

9 Ways to Relax a Baby with Infant Massage

IMsleepygirl

After a stint of NO day naps due to teething, my kiddo now gets massaged every day after her morning bath… and we’re rewarded with a nice long afternoon nap. WOOHOO!

 

Infant massage has numerous benefits, a major one being relaxation for your baby. Research shows that infant massage reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels and improves sleep patterns and can help babies sleep more deeply (and awake well-rested). Many parents ask me to teach them specifically to help with their child’s sleep habits (or non-sleep habits, I should say!) Every baby, including my own, goes through different day & night sleep/awake phases as they grow, develop, and hit new milestones. Some parents sleep-train while others find that baby-led routines work best for them. Infant massage classes can help new parents no matter what style of parenting they choose- parents leave class with a better understanding of infant behavioral states and learn hands-on techniques for relaxation.

Here are some tips to help make the infant massage experience more relaxing and enjoyable for both you and your baby. Try them out and see if they work for you and your family!

 

  • Use a natural, plant-based oil

We know that using an oil during massage can cuts down on friction and thus makes massage smoother and more flowing, as opposed to jarring. Studies have found that, as compared with infants who received massage without oil, infants who received massage with oil were less active, showed fewer stress behaviors and head averting, and their saliva cortisol levels decreased more.(1) Check out my article at Our Mom Spot to read more about choosing the right oil.

 

  • Focus the massage on one body part at a time

If you don’t have much time but want to get a massage in (something that occurs in my life quite often), you may want to save time and massage two areas at the same time, as in both arms or both legs simultaneously. One great thing about attending a class and learning all of the techniques properly is that once you’re comfortable with them at home you can adjust the routine as needed. Instead of massaging two areas at once, try spending less time on each area, or only doing certain techniques. Rushing and massaging baby too much at one time could be counterproductive to the relaxing experience you’re hoping to create.

 

  • Only one parent massages at a time

Having more than one person massage at a time may be overstimulating for the baby. It’s tempting to, for example, have mom massage the left leg followed by dad massaging baby’s right leg, but another option is to have one parent massage in the morning, and the other in the evening (or any other system that you find works for you).

 

  • Set the mood

This isn’t always possible to do, but it may be worth a try if relaxation or deeper, more restful sleep for your baby is a goal. Think about the type of environment you enjoy when getting a massage- maybe a warm temperature, dim lighting, and soft music, and set a relaxing mood before beginning a massage.

 

  • Relax yourself before beginning the massage

In class, we always do a relaxation exercise before beginning massage. This is a great habit to get into as your baby can sense your stress and become stressed himself. And consider this: studies have shown that when mothers and babies make eye contact, their hearts beat in sync! Imagine the effect that your actual touch can have on your infant’s systems.

 

  • Find a comfortable position for both you and baby before beginning

Your baby (though sometimes not at first) may enjoy being massaged for 15 minutes or longer, so it’s important that you are in a comfortable position to start with. Try propping yourself up with a pillow or two to keep your bottom and lower back comfortable, and keep some water next to you.

 

  • Follow your baby’s cues and don’t force the massage

Infant massage is all about reading your infant’s cues and meeting your baby’s needs. If your child at any point is giving you “no” signs, like fussing, crying, arching the back, or a clue that is unique to your baby, stop the massage and give your baby what she needs. You can always try again later!

 

  • Use enough pressure to be gentle but effective

Using a pressure that is too light may tickle your baby. Always use your best judgement when applying pressure, be extra gentle around joints and knees, and stay below the ribs during tummy massage.

 

  • Use “Resting Hands” before each massage

Resting hands is a technique taught in class that is to be used before each part of the massage begins. For example, if you are about to massage your baby’s left leg, heavily rest your hands on top of the leg before going into your strokes. This way, your baby has a moment to understand that that particular body part is going to be massaged. Using Resting Hands will help to not overstimulate or startle your baby. Touch Relaxation is another technique learned in class which over time may help to “wire” your baby for relaxation at your touch.

 

Infant massage is science and evidence-based, but it’s also an art. Don’t stress over perfecting the techniques- enjoy the one-on-one quality time with your baby! They’re only so little for such a short period of time.

 

I. Field, T., Schanberg, S., Davalos, M., & Malphurs, J. (1996). Massage with oil has more positive effects on normal infants. Pre and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 11, 75-80.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Birthwork, Postpartum

16 Products & Services to Make Your Postpartum Easier

This list is not in any particular order nor is it complete. I feel like I should have some sort of disclaimer like “Individual results may vary. You might not like or need or want any of these products or services.” But really, I don’t know what I would do without most of these things:

 

Image

1. Snuza Hero

 

This might be one of the most important, beloved gifts we were given during pregnancy. The Snuza clips easily onto both disposable and cloth diapers, as well as little pants. Does the baby sometimes wriggle around enough so that it unclips itself and goes off and gives us a heart attack at 2am? Sure. Are a couple of inconvenient false alarms worth the peace of mind that the Snuza gives us? Absolutely. It’s easy to use and can go anywhere the baby goes, unlike infant monitoring pads that stay in the crib. No matter what room our kiddo finds herself napping in, we can attach the Snuza to her. It’s pricey, but worth every penny for anxious new moms like me.

 

Image

2. Keurig Coffee Maker and Ekobrew Reusable Filter

I didn’t appreciate our Keurig until our daughter was born. I use an Ekobrew filter so can fill with my favorite regular or decaf coffee (decaf… ha! hahahahAHHAHAHAHAh) and press a button and have a cup of coffee within seconds. The Ekobrew saves us money and doesn’t harm the environment, so everybody wins.

 

Image

3. Lactation Counselor/Consultant

If you’re even considering breastfeeding for any amount of time, please research and contact a lactation counselor or consultant during your pregnancy. Have their number on your fridge and programmed in your phone. Call them. Have them come over. Pick their brains. Let them direct your hands and watch you attempt to breastfeed and let them work their magic. Our lactation counselor charted the course of our postpartum period, saved our marriage, and changed our life. In like, 2 hours. Please. Please please please have a lactation professional on speed dial; breastfeeding can be challenging BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.

 

Image

4. Boba wrap

We love this wrap! Our daughter has been enjoying her Boba since she was about 2 weeks old. Some days her being in the wrap on my chest was the only way she would nap or I could get anything done, like dishes or laundry. The wrap has also been great for exercise and cabin fever as it keeps her warm and snug even in the cold winter months and I can get out of the house!

 

Image

5. Birth Ball (aka Yoga Ball)

Our birth ball was of mega importance during my induction and labor and continued to be a great tool after our daughter was born. Bouncing or swaying on the ball with her in my arms has helped her to calm and sleep when otherwise I would have been required to walk around the house exhausted. Birth balls can be so helpful when both you and your baby are tired but he/she needs movement to drift off to dreamland. The ball was also hugely helpful in alleviating my lower back pain after labor. Bouncing on it was -not- happening in the first 5 weeks when I was still healing, but eventually I was using it all the time.

 

Image

6. An assortment of nursing pads

So, I didn’t realize in pregnancy that my chest would go through a bunch of crazy size and shape changes after birth. I knew my milk was going to come in and things would change, I just didn’t realize that my breasts could change shape literally from day to day. I also didn’t realize that certain nursing pads would work great with a larger bra needed on days when I was more engorged, and others would work better when I was smaller, pointier… you get the drift. Luckily I have a bunch of different types of pads, both cloth and disposable, that work for different sized bras and boobs.

Bamboobies: great for round/larger days/bra with a tighter fit

NUK cloth pads: great for every day, but not the softest material so can be scratchy

Target brand with adhesive: great for larger bras/smaller or larger chest days

NUK Ultra Thin pads: great for rounder days- no adhesive so if bra doesn’t have a snug fit, can move around or fall out when nursing

 

Image

7. Coconut oil

Make your life easier by going to Costco and getting a big ole tub of organic coconut oil. We have never used a lotion or cream on our baby- only coconut oil, and she has the softest, smoothest skin. I never have to worry about her ingesting chemicals, especially now that she chews on her hands all day long. She has had only 2 small dots of cradle cap, and that was when she was a week or two old and we weren’t bathing her yet. After every bath, we slather her in coconut oil. It’s compatible with cloth diapers, has gotten rid of diaper rash, has healed cuts on her face from nail scratches, and worked wonders as a nipple cream. We tested a bit out on her ankle where the skin is thin when she was a day or two old, watched for a reaction and we’ve never had a problem with it. It’s also delicious, in case you were wondering.

 

Image

8. Boppy

I’ve tried a few different types of nursing pillows and now only use our Boppy if I want to use a pillow. In the early days when baby was still so tiny, it provided the perfect amount of height to help with breastfeeding. I also use it now when I’m in bed- I place it atop two pillows (like an upside down horseshoe) and lean back to breastfeed. Sometimes we sit the baby inside of it for a minute. sometimes I rest a plate on it to eat. We use our Boppy ALL the time, and love that the cover comes off easily to throw in the wash. I also love that we bought it gently used for $8 at a baby expo.

 

Image

9. Fresh Direct (especially Heat and Eats and 4-Minute Meals)

My mother in law gifted us with 2 weeks’ worth of freshly made meals and they were absolutely delicious life savers. We got everything from -the best- chicken tikka masala I’ve ever tasted, to fresh berries, frozen dinner rolls, salads with chicken and toppings, soups, risottos… These meals are a major component to our eventual breastfeeding success, because I was able to keep fed with fresh, delicious hot meals by just popping them in the microwave for 4 minutes and scarfing. My mother in law hand-picked each item we received, and they arrived at our door ready to be put in our refrigerator and freezer. Another great resource to look into is Door to Door Organics to get fresh produce and groceries delivered- just know that you probably will have zero time to cook anything. 

 

Image

If you currently own a Star Wars bathrobe, please contact me. You may be a person I need to get to know.

10. Bathrobe

Sometimes there’s not a lot of time to find a shirt in the postpartum period. Sometimes you’re tending to a clusterfeeding baby every 20 minutes and shirts are pointless. Sometimes your hormones go berserk and you’re hot and cold and then hot again, and sometimes you just need a warm, snuggly, soft robe on to make you feel human when you’re sleep deprived and wondering what you got yourself into. Oh, and sometimes you fly out of your 3 minute shower to get to your crying baby who just woke up from her catnap and a bathrobe does the dual jobs of drying you and keeping you warm while you console your little one.

Image

11. Brita Ultramax Dispenser

Staying hydrated is such a huge, important factor of the postpartum period. It’s one of those things everybody stresses while you’re pregnant but you’re not really listening or caring because, hello, it’s hydration, not rocket science, and No offense, but I think I’ll be able to handle drinking water after the baby’s born, mmkay? You guys, staying hydrated with a newborn can be insanely challenging! I’m thirsty constantly, especially when nursing the baby 12 times a day and she is literally sucking the hydration out of me. Our Brita water thing makes cool, clean, refreshing water available all of the time without having to deal with water bottles and recycling. It’s one of the best purchases we ever made. I believe we got it on sale online at Target.com for around $15.

 

Image

12. Wearable blankets

This is one of those items we received at our baby shower that I completely did not understand. It stayed in its package until 2 weeks ago when Steve and I were concerned about the temperature. We live in a multi-family home and while the beginning of the evening starts out at a completely livable temperature, as time goes on it creeps up as we are heated from the family who lives below us. By 3am our bedroom is like a sauna! The wearable blanket is the perfect option for us to keep baby warm the beginning of the night- I just take it off at her mid-night diaper change/feed if it’s gotten warmer in the room and then don’t have to worry about the baby overheating and also didn’t disturb her sleep by having to add or remove layers. Whoever came up with wearable blankets is a genius (and obviously a parent).

 

Image

13. Floating octopus thermometer

 

I used to use this thing towards the end of my pregnancy when I was concerned with whether or not the showers I was taking were too hot, because I was/am a total worrywart. Now we use this for every bath and thank goodness, because apparently I am terrible at gauging whether or not the bathwater is too hot or cold for the baby.

 

Image

 

14. EarthMama AngelBaby Bottom Balm

Yes. This got rid of diaper rash within 24 hours. Also- EMAB Nipple Cream is awesome! 

 

Image

 

15. Disposable plates/bowls/cups/flatware

You have lots of options here- paper, plastic, even ones made from sugarcane and plant starch (it’s official, Costco has EVERYTHING). Dishes are going to be the last thing on your mind. You will grow to hate dishes, and will be amazed at how many spoons two people can go through in a single day. Disposable dishes and flatware have been sooo wonderful in reducing mess and stress, and when visitors came in the early days I never had to worry or think about cleaning after everyone went home. 

 

Image

16. Himalayan salt lamp

My sister gave me this a few years ago and it’s turned out to be the most perfect addition to our bedroom, where our daughter sleeps. It gives just the right amount of soft light for a baby. I have enough light to change a diaper and breastfeed in the middle of the night, and yet I can still fall asleep with it. Though, let’s be honest, I could sleep through a hurricane most nights.

Leave a comment

Filed under Postpartum