With my first child, I did everything: baby swim classes at five months, baby sign language, play groups, play dates, and gymnastics classes before she could even walk.
But the first thing I signed up for was baby massage. It was a free class offered at the Ontario Early Years Centre and I was so excited to start. G was only a few months old so she wasn’t sleeping for long stretches, and she seemed colicky. She cried a lot and I had heard massage could help with self-regulation, colic, and encourage more sleep. It was also supposed to be a good way to bond with your child.
I remember loving it, I would massage a little oil on her after each bath at night practicing all I had learned in class. We bathed her in the kitchen sink, a feature of our nightly routine. She had, of course, all our attention.
Fast forward three years and here comes baby g. Our poor second child, though well loved, he is 20 months old and we haven’t signed him up for anything (well, one swim class at 18 months but only because it was at the same time as G’s class). We had long forgotten baby massage until a package arrived at my door from Cetaphil Baby. Inside was a bottle of moisturizing oil. Both my children have very dry skin so I am always looking for new products to try.
That night I grabbed the bottle and massaged some on to baby g’s skin trying to remember the techniques I had learned before. He was grumpy but stayed uncharacteristicly still as I rubbed his chubby legs and arms, he giggled as I massaged each tiny finger and toe, reaching out a pudgy foot for more. We both calmed down in that moment.
I told myself I had to try each night to properly review the product, but to be honest, I just enjoyed making some special time for my little guy. Big G got to play for an extra 1/2 hour while I focused on little g. I haven’t really done much of this since the chaotic first days he was around. More often life revolves around big G’s schedule, as I’m sure is typical for children this age.
Baby g doesn’t always lay calmly for his massage. Sometimes he turns into a wiggly, giggly worm making the whole thing a bit of a challenge, but those moments are just as special. We laugh and play and still both end up calmer and happier than before. I try to lock in a mental picture of his grin – still missing many teeth – and that amazing laugh.
I’m hooked. Massage is now a regular part of our bedtime routine as a way to bond, relax, and lock some moisture into his delicate skin. Days are so busy, mornings rushed as we get out the door for work, school and daycare. Evenings are rarely better, with the rush to get dinner on the table and the kids to bed at a decent time. It’s nice to just stop and focus. We always read books and sing songs, but lately even that can be a little chaotic with baby g climbing all over everyone and big G getting the sillies herself. This grounds us and calms everyone.
The International Loving Touch Foundation says it’s never too late to start massage – whether your child is several months or several years old. Even big G, when she saw the attention little g was getting, started asking for her moisturizer before bed (and usually that is a battle).
For those of you wondering about the Cetaphil Baby moisturizing oil – it’s great. It’s rich and absorbs well (a much nicer feel than coconut oil which I have tried). Somehow I don’t even end up with greasy sheets when he is rolling around. The scent is delicate and I have a feeling one bottle will last a very, very long time. The good news is, it won’t go bad like whatever oil it was our massage instructor gave us in a dark blue glass bottle. After putting g in his crib, I find myself rubbing my hands together because they feel so soft.
I’m looking forward to seeing if our routine makes a difference in the drier winter months.
Note: Cetaphil Baby sent me their line of baby products to try, including a moisturizing oil. My experience trying their products prompted this post. All opinions are my own – honest and unvetted.