How to Massage Your Baby
Massaging an infant is very relaxing for both the baby and the parent. It is a privileged moment during which emotional bonds are formed.
Note: Parents are advised to learn massage techniques by taking courses with a certified instructor. However, you can massage your baby safely by following the advice given in this guide.
Health-talks.net answers questions you may have and explains how to massage a baby safely.
Massage helps the infant’s digestion. A massage can also relieve an infant suffering from gas or colic, or help a baby to have a better night.
In premature babies, it is particularly beneficial: studies show a link between massage and weight gain. It also stimulates blood circulation and muscles.
1. Choose the Right Time to Massage Your Baby
Avoid massaging your baby right after a feed or bottle.
Choose any other time, as long as your child is awake and quiet, for example, when you get out of the bath.
2. Make Yourself Comfortable for the Massage
Take a comfortable position for you and your child, for example:
Your baby on the changing table and you standing in front of him.
You sit on the floor, your back supported on the wall, and your legs spread out, your baby lying on the floor between your legs on a changing mat.
Make sure the room is well heated (25 or 26°C).
Preferably put your child naked, except for his diaper.
3. Prepare Your Hands for Massage
Wash your hands before the massage.
Remove your rings, which could hurt your child’s fragile skin.
Warm your hands by rubbing them together.
Coat your hands with natural vegetable oil: sesame oil and jojoba oil are particularly suitable, while sweet almond oil is not the most recommended because it can cause allergies. In any case, check that your oil is edible.
4. Apply a Few Simple Rules
You can start massaging your baby as soon as he or she is born, avoiding the stomach until the cord has fallen out.
Be careful: babies may urinate spontaneously during their first massage; be prepared for this!
Start with a short session (5 minutes): at first, limit yourself to massaging the legs, arms and torso, for example.
Note: Some babies do not enjoy massages; others will not enjoy the first massage but will develop a liking for it later.
Gradually extend the session to 15 minutes if your child enjoys the massage.
Be available and relaxed, essential conditions for the massage to be beneficial to your child.
Listen to your baby: don’t do anything he doesn’t like, stop the massage if he is uncomfortable or crying.
Do not massage your child if he or she is ill or has a fever.
To massage your baby, use your hand to exert a firm and gentle pressure, different from a caress.
Repeat each step 3 times or more, depending on the total duration of the massage.
To help your child relax, talk, sing or play a CD of classical music or nursery rhymes during the massage.
5. Massage Legs and Feet
With your hands together, form a bracelet around the upper thigh, gently lower to the ankle. Make the same movement in the opposite direction, to move the blood back to the heart. One leg at a time.
Gently massage the foot, including the sole, then press the toe — one foot at a time.
6. Massage the Arms and Hands
With one of your hands, form a bracelet around the top of his arm, gently descend to his wrist. Move-in the opposite direction, so that the blood can flow back to the heart. One arm at a time.
With your thumb, massage the inside of his wrists.
Gently massage the hand (back and palm), then take each finger one by one between thumb and index finger, gently slide from hand to nail — one hand at a time.
7. Massage the Chest and Stomach
Place your right hand on your baby’s right shoulder and slide it to the navel. Do the same on the other side with the other hand.
Place one hand on your baby’s stomach and make light circular movements, clockwise. This can help if he suffers from colic.
Note: If the cord is not completely healed, place your hands flat on your baby’s chest and slide them gently outward.
8. Massage the Face
Go smoothly on baby’s forehead from the centre to the temples, then on his eyebrows, from his nose to his temples.
Place your thumbs at the corner of his lips and slide them to his ears.
Finish by tapping your child’s jaw to relax it.
9. Massage Baby’s Back
Put your child on his stomach.
Place your right hand on his left shoulder blade and slide it to his right buttock. Do the same on the other side with the other hand.
Use your fingertips to draw small circles on either side of the spine (never on the spine itself), from the shoulders to the buttocks.
To finish the massage, apply your hands flat on your baby’s back and leave them for a moment.
Hope these few tips help you enjoy a special time with your little one. Massaging your baby is spending a particular time with him, giving him a feeling of well-being and safety and helping him to relax and become aware of his body.
Remember to share your experience in the comment section below!