With all the activities happening during the summer, getting your little one to sleep can be a challenge. They can be over stimulated or over tired or both! Neither of these helps with having an easy nap or nighttime sleep. As we all know sleep begets sleep and if they don’t sleep then they don’t sleep and it’s a horrible, vicious cycle.
Did you know that baby massage can help your little one sleep deeper and longer? Well it can! Babies and children have a nervous system just like adults, as well as a fight or flight response like adults. When they become over stimulated, e.g., play dates, the pool, grocery store, grandma’s house or a loud noise scares them their nervous system turns on. This increases their heartbeat, breathing and pumping their body with adrenaline to get ready to fight or flight. However as a baby, they are unable to fight or flight. They are stuck with their body ready to go and no way of calming themselves down. As parents, when our children are crying or upset what is the first thing we do? Pick them up. We put them on us, usually on our chest, so they can hear our heartbeat, our breathing and our voice. We calm them down. This is all good and well until you have a 4 year old that every time they are scared or upset they attach themselves to your leg. They want you to calm them down because this is all they know. We do not come into this world knowing how to calm ourselves down, it’s something we learn over time.
By massaging your baby you are teaching them, through touch, what it feels like to be calm. Also, they are not on you when this calming feeling is happening. So, the next time that fight or flight response kicks in, they will be able to recreate that calm feeling for themselves. Therefore creating calmer babies, calmer toddlers and calmer adults. I’m all for that! The more massage you incorporate into your daily routine the easier and faster your baby will calm down and be ready for sleep. Once they are asleep, they will sleep deeper and longer because their nervous system has been settled down.
Tips and Tricks
The ideal time for the Sleep Massage Sequence on the legs and feet is before naptimes and bedtime. This helps to calm the nervous system and gets baby ready to sleep.
Think about your sleep after coming home from a concert or dinner party. Do you go straight to bed? Probably not, you need time to wind down. Babies are no different. They need a wind down period too and incorporating baby massage into their nap and bedtime routine is a perfect way for that to happen.