Knowing how to care for your little bundle of joy is imperative for all parents. Baby massage, an ancient practice in many cultures has gained popularity in recent years worldwide as a great method of bonding with the baby. Researchers have found that daily massage of the baby for ten to thirty minutes helps in relieving colic, promotes sound sleep in babies and helps in strengthening and building their bones and muscles.
Massaging premature babies helps them gain weight and develop motor skills and immunity with ease. Baby massages helps in improving the digestive system of babies and promotes better circulation. Moreover a relaxing massage for your little one is a great way of bonding with him or her.
For a new mom mastering the technique of infant massages can be quite difficult. Most of them are clueless about the amount of pressure to use, how to massage the baby’s little arms, stomach and legs. Here is a simple step by step technique on how you can massage your baby
How to Massage a Baby
Preparing for the Massage
Preparing for the massage is just as important as knowing the technique of how to massage an infant. Start off with removing any rings or bracelets on your hands which may in some way injure your child during the massage. Wash your hands with an antibacterial soap and make sure that they are not too cold during the massage. It is important to ensure that your child is relaxed and comfortable during the massage.
If the baby has just had a meal then massage him or her after half an hour to ensure that he or she is completely relaxed. A good time to massage a baby is just after he or she has woken up as children tend to be happy and wakeful during this time. The room where you massage the baby should be slightly warm, neither too cold or hot. Spread out a soft mat and lay the baby on the mat carefully. If the baby appears extremely irritable and cries even as you start the massage then it is a good idea to postpone it till the baby is relaxed and happy.
Massaging your Baby’s Head and Face
The massage should start from the head and then proceed down to the legs and toes. Settle the baby comfortably on the mat and then remove his or her clothes. Keep the massage oil along with towels, diapers and bath mats close at hand before you start out. Start out with massaging the baby’s head and face. Massage the forehead, eyebrows, area around the nose, the cheeks and around the ears with soft little strokes.
Using your fingers trace a heart shape starting from the forehead to the chin. Place your thumbs on the eyebrows and massage outwards and then gently stroke your baby’s closed eyelids. Massage the area surrounding the ears using your thumb and fingers. Then slowly massage the jaw area using your fingertips. The pressure should be light and when massaging small areas use your fingers
Massaging the Shoulders and Arms
To massage the arms, hold your baby’s arms and then make a ring with your index finger and thumb. Starting from the elbows slowly move down to the wrists.
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Gently squeeze the arm muscles as you move along and then around the wrists slowly turn your hands in opposite directions to massage the area. Finish off by massaging the palms in a circular motion and then gently squeezing and pulling each finger.
Tummy Massage for Babies
A good tummy massage aids in relieving colic pain and aids in digestion as well. Massage below the rib cage on the baby’s tummy in a circular motion. Move your hands clockwise as you massage. Then place your hands on the base of the rib and then stroke the baby’s tummy with one hand, followed by the other in a paddle motion. Now slowly trace the words “I Love U” on the baby’s tummy starting from the left side where you need to trace a I, followed by an inverted L below the rib cage and then an inverted U from the right side to the left.
Follow up the tummy massage by holding your baby’s legs and knees and then pushing them slowly towards the stomach and bicycling the legs. This helps in expelling the gas and provides relief from colic pain.
Leg and Feet Massage
Once you are done with the tummy massage, start with the leg massage. Hold the baby’s leg in one hand and with the other hand make a ring shape around the thighs. Gently massage from the hips to the foot while exerting a little pressure. Then starting from the thighs, grasp the leg with both the hands and then move each hand in opposite directions as you massage from thighs to the feet. Massage the ankles in a circular motion and then each toe in a paddle motion wherein the thumb over thumb technique is used.
Massaging the Baby’s Back
A back massage can be extremely relaxing for a baby. Place your child on his or her tummy with the hands outstretched in front. Place both your hands on the baby’s back and then move each hand in the opposite direction. Massage gently along your baby’s spine by making small circles. Try not to press the spinal cord directly. Finish up by massaging the baby’s buttocks in big circular motions.
Make massages a regular part of the baby’s schedule and make sure that you do them when both of you have enough time to spare. Do not be in a hurry to finish off your massaging session. Instead make sure you take an interval of few seconds to lovingly talk to and reassure your baby. Look for cues about when to stop. If the baby starts feeling restless and unhappy with the massage then it is best to stop. Do not massage the baby just after feeding him or her. Instead wait for at least an hour after feeding to start the massaging session. If the baby is ill, received an injection or has hurt himself in some way, then it is best to skip the massage till the time he or she has recovered.
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