The stereotypical image of sleep-deprived new parents, Mama rocking her mum bub, dadda sent off to get the second coffee of the day, is familiar to most of us. And if you are a new parent, it’s probably painfully accurate. Fortunately, there is help. Baby massage techniques can be lifesavers for parents who can’t get their baby to sleep.
If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, you’ve come to the right place. I have been where you are, my friend. With years of experience, I now offer an online course for parents who want to connect with their babies through infant massage. You can access expert tips and techniques to help your baby sleep so that you can get some much-needed rest.
The New Parent Sleep Deficit
Tired parents may be one of the most-researched groups of people. And the anecdotal evidence could have filled the Library of Alexandria.
Between feedings, diaper changes, and sporadic newborn sleep habits, nighttime can be challenging. It’s nearly impossible for parents of newborns to get the holy grail of six to eight hours of sleep.
In fact, one study found that almost half of new parents get only one to three hours of sleep at a stretch. And mums routinely are on the lower end of the spectrum compared to dads.
This lack of sleep has significant side effects that range from annoying to potentially dangerous:
- Cognitive Slow-Down – Anyone who has tried to take a test or finish a work project after a lousy night of sleep understands this problem. Lack of deep sleep leaves you feeling sluggish and robs you of your alertness and concentration. It also increases moments of forgetfulness.
- Irritability – Caring for a newborn is hard enough for parents. But when they are sleep-deprived, they can become increasingly irritable with each other. Long-term sleep problems can lead to symptoms of depression and can exacerbate postpartum mood disorders.
- Prone to Accidents – Sleepiness can be a hazardous situation. From trips and falls at home to auto accidents on the road, sleep deprivation is a significant contributor. In the United States, fatigue is a factor in about 100,000 car crashes each year.
Clearly, sleep is critical to good health. But is it even possible to get more than an hour or two of sleep when you have an infant? Great question!
How Do Newborns Sleep?
A typical sleep cycle for a new baby is around 40 minutes and includes active and quiet sleep. You can recognize the quiet part of the cycle by your child’s deep, regular breathing. And it is harder to wake them during this time, too.
In the first few months, babies tend to sleep through about three sleep cycles before waking again to eat. And after feeding, they often fall back asleep quickly.
They don’t have a clock, and they don’t know that people aren’t supposed to be nocturnal. So how can you meet your child’s needs and get some sleep? Options such as baby massage can provide just what you need.
Baby Massage to Help Your Baby Sleep
Once falling under the realm of hippy parents, baby massage now carries mainstream backing. It provides tremendous benefits to the infant, as well as the mum and dad.
Calm Parent-Child Interaction
Let’s face it. The first few weeks and months of parenthood often don’t feel very calm. Whether you are adjusting to your first baby or your fifth, things can be challenging, day and night.
Your new little one has no control over anything, and usually, their only coping mechanism is to cry. You may feel as if you have no control either and resort to the very same coping skill as your newborn.
It’s all normal. I promise. You have every right to feel tired and overwhelmed at times.
Baby massage can be a lifesaver during these months. It almost always calms your child, and it allows you to connect with them peacefully and without stress. For most babies, touch is soothing, so having this way to connect helps you and your baby relax.
Prepares Baby for Sleep
Have you ever had a top-notch massage that leaves you drifting off to dreamland? Your baby can enjoy those same feelings after a gentle massage so that they can fall asleep more easily. Making massage part of your daily routine can help lower stress hormones in you and your child, allowing everyone to have more consistent sleep.
Not Just for Parents
Would you and your partner love a date night, but you’re worried that Nanna won’t be able to get your little angel to sleep? Or would you like to go out for some self-care all on your own, but your hubs is nervous about the baby crying?
Infant massage isn’t just for mums to use. Anyone can learn how to do this in a way that helps your child feel more calm and relaxed. When other caregivers have these tools, you can enjoy a much-needed break. It’s also so special for Nanna or big sisters to be able to do as well!
Creating so many special memories at #massagetime!
How Do I Learn to Do Baby Massage?
The best way to learn how to do massage safely is by taking a class. In-person or online courses from a trained professional will show you the right steps so that you enjoy the most benefit.
Along with instruction from an expert, here are some tips and tricks to help you and your baby enjoy their massage:
- Choose a time when you don’t need to rush. If you are in a hurry, your stress hormones will go up, and you will have a difficult time giving an effective massage. Your little one will sense the stress.
- Create a comfortable environment. I recommend creating a ‘nest’. You can use a rolled-up towel or buy one, I love my DockATot for massage time!
- Keep the room warm, around 75 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Soft, gentle music often helps you and your infant relax, as well.
- Use a safe option for your massage oil. It’s likely your baby will put their toes or fingers in their mouth during their massage, so be sure the oil you use is safe. Look for an organic, cold-pressed vegetable-based option, such as sunflower oil or sesame seed oil. Avoid nut oils as a precaution against allergic reactions, and steer clear of baby oil and mineral oil, too. Those products can clog the pores on a baby’s skin.
- Make eye contact and watch your baby for cues. Do you ever have times when you just feel “touched out”? You know, those moments when you don’t want anyone to touch you at all? Your baby will have those times, too. If they look away or get fussier when you try to massage them, then they aren’t in the mood. And that’s ok! It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. It simply means it isn’t the right time. Finish up the massage, pick them up, and give them a cuddle. 2-3 minutes of massage when they are happy to receive it is so much more powerful and beneficial than 20 minutes when they are fussy and unsettled.
- Be gentle. This is a tiny body you are massaging. You need to apply gentle pressure to make sure the process is calming and restful for your baby. If possible, utilize a professionally-taught class to make sure you are using effective methods.
Your Journey to Better Sleep
Our goal is to empower you to connect with and nurture your infant through massage. We have seen the life-changing success for parents who receive the tools they need to help soothe their babies so that the whole household can get some rest.
We’re excited to share our new online course for you to enjoy in the comfort of your home. Sign up today and be on your way to a happier baby and more sleep.