Infant massage is all about touch and making a connection with your child. We talked about laying a towel out on the floor or on the bed, having baby relaxed and warm from a bath, and you settling into a comfortable position where you can spend a good bit of time in the first part of our article on Benefits of infant massage.
If baby is not relaxed, bicycle her legs while talking in a soft tone. Coo and babble, or just tell her all about your days. Share speech with your child. This is another great bonding tool. Make sure you are also relaxed, because your baby’s little body is going to react to tension in your hands,
Start With the Legs
Hold one foot in your hand and use your other hand to make a gentle “milking” motion from the ankle and up to the thigh. Then, make a light twisting and squeezing motion. Always use a very light touch. The goal is not deep muscle massage. You just want to relax baby and share a bonding moment.
Experiment with several massage techniques and read your baby’s reaction. Find the touches she enjoys. You can roll her leg between your hands from knee to ankle. Try light thumb presses around the ankle and foot. Or, maybe you find that all you need to do is lightly stroke baby’s legs from thigh to feet.
The arms and hands are done in the same fashion as the legs and the feet. Take some time to massage the lymph nodes in the armpit, too.
There are no hard and fast rules here. Since this is all about touch and bonding, there is no “right” way to share massage time with your baby.
Little Baby Bellies
Digestion is still a new process for your little one. Lighting massaging the abdomen can be a great comfort for your baby. Slide your palm and fingers in a hand-over-hand circle motion. Start this at the rib cage and move downward. Now slide both hands around the abdomen in clockwise, circular movements.
I Love U
I used one particular massage move a lot when Gigi was colicky. Her little abdomen would be hard as a rock, her muscles clenched in pain. It was miserable for both of us. So, I would do the “I Love U” stroke. Imagine an upside down U over your baby’s abdomen. Start with a downward stroke for the “I” on baby’s left side. Then, stroke along the imaginary upside down “L” and again along the upside down “U.”
My daughter particularly loved having her face stroked, anything from a whole-handed smoothing to lightly circling with the thumbs and light fingertip strokes. A useful stroke is to lighting draw a smile on your baby’s face, which soothes the muscles used for sucking.
Save the Back for Last
With the pads of your fingers, lightly rub small circles all over the back. This is also great “tummy time” for baby who will probably be experimenting with pushing up while you rub her back.
Some people say 5 minutes is enough time while others argue 15 minutes. I say just enjoy the massage as long as you and baby are having fun.