Infant Massage: Relaxation for Baby and You
Infant massage is good for your baby and for you – it is a well established fact that all mammals (including humans) do not thrive (and may even die) if they are not held in their earliest days of life. We need touch to feel embodies, safe and comforted – think of a silent hug received from a friend when you’re down, or a pat on the shoulder or back for encouragement.
Massage is a simple and enjoyable way for parents and carers to bond with children and for children to develop their muscles and co-ordination. Infant who receive massage are noticeably calmer, more alert and have better sleep patterns.
Some Basic Rules to Follow When Massaging a Baby
You don’t have to be an expert to massage your baby – just be willing and observe a few simple rules:
- Do massage on the floor
- Put the baby on a changing mat and have plenty of towels (in case of accidents)
- Make sure the room is warm – infants cannot regulate their body temperature
- Start with the feet – but be flexible – it may feel right to you (or the baby) to start elsewhere!
- Use warmed sunflower oil or other non-nut massage oil – almond oil may provoke an allergic reaction (nuts)
A Basic Infant Massage Routine*
- Feet/Legs – Hold each leg by the ankle, stroke the inner and outer leg (alternate hands) from thigh to ankle and back; stroke the sole and top of the foot, gently squeeze and rotate each toe.
- Abdomen/Chest – Clockwise circles around navel; with the flat of your hand stroke down the abdomen to the groin, one hand following the other. Place thumbs over navel, sliding out towards the waist. Place hands over the chest and trace a heart shape with the finger tips over the baby’s chest/
- Arm/Hands – Hold the wrist with one hand; stroke the inside and outside of the arm from shoulder to wrist (alternating hands). Stroke the palm, gently squeeze and rotate each finger. Stroke top of the hand. Roll arm gently from shoulder towards the wrist.
- Face – Stroke forehead and circle eyes; make circles over cheeks and glide fingers around the ears.
- Back – (baby on Mum’s tummy or thighs) Slide hands back and forth over entire back, stroke from toes up to the shoulders and down the arms. Gently need each buttock and tops of shoulders; light, gentle “cat” strokes down the back.
Finish the routine (whether you get through it all or not!) with a cuddle!
*If you need more help, local Children’s Centres and many health clinics have infant massage classes or have teachers available
This article was also published in Mi Business Mag