By Muniba Mahmood
An Introduction to Infant Massage- Step by Step Guidance
You’ve read baby books, listened to advice from friends and relations; but this is your baby. He is a unique individual. All the information you need is stored in your subconscious. Trust your instincts, they will guide you.
We all love to cuddle our babies and babies always respond positively to touch. It’s our way of communicating our love for each other and is essential for sustaining the bonding process.
I’m sure you don’t need an excuse for focusing all your attention on your baby, but here’s something you may not have tried – infant massage. It’s a simple technique using rhythmic stroking that has considerable benefits for both mother (or father!) and baby.
Infant massage can:
help to nurture bonding between parent and baby
help baby to have a more restful sleep
help to relieve the discomfort associated with gas and colic
stimulate the senses
encourage body awareness
promote the strengthening of the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems
increase parents confidence and sensitivity to baby’s cues
relax and release tension.
It is important to choose the “right time” to give your baby a massage. Choose a time of day when he is content. Make sure that you are calm and are not in a hurry – remember your baby can sense your mood. Have everything you need close at hand – towel, oil, clean nappy and clothes. The room should be warm and lighting must be soft and comforting. You can have soothing music playing in the background to help create a relaxing atmosphere.
The safest way to massage your baby is to sit on the floor and have the baby on a towel on your lap, but if you find this difficult you can put him on a large blanket on the floor next to you.
To get started, talk to your baby in a soothing voice and lie him on his back so that he can see what you are doing. Then rub a suitable massage oil onto the palms of your hands.
1. Infant Massage Begin with the Legs:
Using both hands, one on each leg, start from the ankles and with long slow strokes work up to the tops of the legs. Then glide your hands down again to the feet. Don’t apply any pressure on the downward glide as this goes against the flow of circulation. Repeat three or four times.
2. Hold one foot in each hand:
Your fingers should be on top of the foot and your thumb on the sole. Move your thumb in slow, gentle circles over the middle area of the sole of the foot, first in one direction then the other. Repeat three or four times.
3. From the feet stroke your hands up the legs to the abdomen:
From the feet stroke your hands up the legs to the abdomen and using the palm of one hand gently massage the abdomen in a clockwise direction.
Move up to and circle around the shoulders. Glide gently down the arms to the wrists and up to the shoulders again. Repeat three or four times.
5.Turn him over with his head facing your feet:
If your baby is still happy with his massage and has not become restless turn him over with his head facing your feet. If he is on your lap you will obviously only be able to use one hand for massage.
6. Massage the back of the legs:
Massage the back of the legs from ankles to bottom. Put your hands on top of the buttocks and glide them with one hand on either side of the spine (unless the baby is on your lap – then use one hand and keep the other free to hold him steady) up to the neck, out over the shoulders and back down the sides of the body to the buttocks again. Repeat.
If at any time during the massage your baby shows signs of not wanting you to carry on massaging him, stop. You can always try again another day.
This can become part of your daily schedule. Many of the strokes used in the massage routine are similar to washing the arms, legs, chest and back so you could incorporate this into your bathing routine.
This is a natural way to promote infant health; it’s easy to learn and is enjoyable to do. So what are you waiting for?
Communicate with your baby in the language most meaningful to him and you will find it a deeply satisfying and rewarding experience for both of you.
The vital thing to remember about your baby is that he is an individual. Learn to listen to him so that you can discover his likes and dislikes. Provide constant care and attention and in return your baby will reward you the only way he knows how. You will be the most important person in his life and he will show you this in his every waking moment.