If you missed Part 1 and 2 in our series on Baby Massage, click here to read about the background and importance of baby massage, and for step by step instructions on how to massage your little one.
Here are some final tips on how to make this a wonderful experience for both you and your baby.
- If at any point during the massage your baby becomes upset, skip that step, and move to the next one. If your baby is still irritable, stop the massage. You can always try again later.
- Always be gentle during a massage. Never apply too much pressure on the baby’s body, since his bones and tissues are very delicate. Always massage towards the heart, in smooth, long movements. Use your finger pads and the palm of your hand – not hard fingertips. Never massage around the groin area.
- Engage with your baby! Speak, laugh, and smile while massaging him. When he looks at you, initiate eye contact and communicate back with a smile. This will help keep him interested in the activity, eventually making him more cooperative. (Not all babies love it at first).
- When you are finished, wipe away the oil on the baby’s palms and fingers. This is to prevent him from accidentally ingesting the oil when he puts his fingers in his mouth. Ensure the oils you use are 100% safe for babies and do not contain synthetic perfumes, petroleum-based products, or nuts.
- When massaging your child’s tummy in a circular motion, always move in a clockwise direction.
- Keep the massage oil away from his face. Use the leftover oil on your hands for a gentle facial massage.
- Finally, maintain a fixed time for a massage. This will help establish a routine, making your baby more comfortable.
Using the techniques described in the previous posts, massage your child’s whole body, repeating each stroke a few times. Always respond to what your child seems to enjoy. Try to read your baby’s cues. If your child becomes upset or falls asleep, stop massaging.
If your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy the massage right away, don’t be disappointed. It might take a bit of getting used to. Start by massaging for just a few minutes, and gradually increase the time as your child becomes accustomed to it.
There is no reason you can’t continue massaging your child into later childhood. Physical affection is important as babies grow into toddlers and then into young children. Studies show that physical touch, apart from having a positive effect on your child’s physical and emotional well-being, also assists in creating healthy relationships with others – including you!