If you missed Part 1 in our series on Baby Massage posts, visit it here to get the background and importance of baby massage.
“How to Guide”
From the start, it is important to create a relaxing, cosy environment for your baby. Choose an area where you won’t be interrupted. It is a good idea to introduce a massage after bath, when your baby is relaxed and warm, as part of a bedtime wind-down routine. We all know babies love routine!
- Make sure, before you start, that your baby is content and alert, and not too tired or hungry.
- Sit on the floor or bed with your child safely on a warmed towel in front of you.
- Find a position that’s comfortable and gives you good eye contact with no overhead lights. Make sure your baby is warm. You can even put on some soothing night time music to help your baby relax – just don’t blame us if your child grows up addicted to the spa!
- It’s up to you whether your child is nappy-free or not. If you choose to keep a nappy on, it can help to loosen it when massaging the tummy and lower back.
- Some massage oil may end up in your baby’s mouth via their hands or feet, so using a safe organic oil or cream such as Pure Beginnings Soothing Baby Massage and Bath Oil is a good idea.
Talk to your baby about what is happening. By informing them of what you’re doing, you’re teaching them about body parts and movements, and are inviting them to participate. Nothing should be done with force.
Massage your child’s whole body using a simple range of techniques. You can repeat each stroke a few times, always responding to what your child seems to enjoy. If at any point your child looks uncomfortable or gets upset – please stop and give them a cuddle instead!
Ready? Let’s jump in!
There are many ways to massage your baby. Here are some guidelines, compliments of Mom Junction.
- Start with the baby’s feet. Rub some drops of oil on your palms and begin massaging the baby’s soles. Massage the heels up to the toes with your thumbs. Then, using your palm, stroke the bottom and top of the baby’s foot. Slowly, make circles with your thumb all over the bottom of each foot and then to the toes. Do not pull on any toe like they do in adult foot massage. Instead, lightly massage each toe right to the tip. This will help stimulate nerve endings.
- Lift one of the legs and make gentle strokes on the ankle and slowly extend towards the thighs. Gently stroke from the foot up to the thigh. You can massage both the legs at once if your baby is calm and relaxed. Otherwise, use one hand to hold onto the ankle, and with the other massage up the leg, towards the heart.
- End the leg massage by gently grasping the thighs with both your hands. Slowly stroke down from thigh to the foot, like you would wring a towel.
- After the legs have been massaged, move on to the arms. The pattern of massaging is similar to that of the legs. Hold the baby’s hands and make circular strokes on the palms. Make small strokes on the baby’s fingers, moving slowly towards the tips.
- Turn his hand around and gently massage the back of his hand with straight strokes towards the wrist. Then, gently massage his wrists in circular motions, like putting on bangles.
- Move your strokes slowly towards his forearm and then towards the upper arm. Massage the entire arm with gentle circular motions as if you are wringing a towel. Again, massage gently up the arms toward the heart.
CHEST & SHOULDERS:
- Make gentle strokes, in tandem, from the left and right shoulder towards the chest of the baby. You can then trace your hand back to the shoulder. Repeat the motion gently. Next, place both your hands at the centre of your baby’s chest and rub outwards from the body, towards the lateral side. You can also make crosses (kisses) across your baby’s chest using both hands in a diagonal motion.
- Make gentle strokes outwards from the bottom of the sternum (the chest bone), across the chest, as if tracing a heart shape.
- Remember, this is a delicate area, and you should avoid even the slightest of pressures. Start your stroke from the top of the belly right below the chest bone. Place your palm gently below the chest bone and make clockwise circular strokes across the belly – all around the belly button. Do not apply any pressure and let your hand gently glide across the belly.
- Continue the circular motions in a clockwise direction while avoiding the belly button. In young babies, the belly button/navel can be sensitive and delicate since they would have recently shed their umbilical cord stub.
- You can also use the I-LOVE-YOU technique on the tummy to relieve gas.
FACE & HEAD:
- Massaging the face and head can be challenging since babies tend to move a lot, but it is as important as massaging the other parts of the body. Begin by placing the tip of your index finger at the centre of your baby’s forehead and slowly stroking along the outline of his face towards his chin. From the chin, move your finger towards his cheeks and massage his cheeks gently in a circular motion. Repeat the strokes a few times.
- After massaging the face, start massaging the scalp with the fingertips, like you are shampooing the baby’s hair. Use gentle pressure and do not apply any extra pressure since the baby’s skull is delicate.
- You can even massage the baby’s forehead gently by moving your fingers outwards from the centre of the forehead.
- It is finally time to turn your baby around and massage his back. Place your baby outstretched on his tummy with his hands at the front and not on the sides.
- Using your fingertips, trace clockwise circles on baby’s upper back, while slowly moving the strokes towards his buttocks.
- Place your index and middle finger on either side of the spinal groove and very gently move the fingers all the way to the buttocks. Repeat the strokes a few times. Do not place the fingers directly on the spine.
And now, surely, your baby will have had the best massage of his life, right? Bravo mama!
Part 3 in our Baby Massage Series looks at some practical tips and suggestions to help you and baby get the most out of the massage experience.