Infant Massage How to's and Benefits
Many of us are already familiar with Massage therapy, how great it feels and the benefits it provides. As a licensed massage therapist, I practice what I preach and incorporate massage into my life on a regular basis. When I had my baby, I was eager to offer her massages and share the pleasure of touch.
Massage is wonderful for babies and their caregivers. It may give new parents more confidence when handling and caring for the baby. It also increase their awareness and helps them to be more in tuned to what baby needs. It creates a bond between adult and child and offers a peaceful quiet time for both to unwind and relax.
For baby, the benefits are numerous. It can calm a colicy baby, promotes healthy digestion and can help with constipation and enhances neurological development. Babies get sick less often when they experience lots of healthy loving touch. You are showing your baby that they are cared for and loved and that they can feel safe.
You can find many books and articles on infant massage but I will share a few basic techniques to get you started. First you need to find an all natural oil such as Sweet Almond,Jojoba or even Olive oil. Choose a quiet time of day when you won't be distracted and can really focus on your baby. Wash your hands and then spread a clean towel out onto the floor. Lie your baby down on her back. Take some oil in your hands and rub them together to warm the oil. You can start from the edge of baby's diaper and draw a '1' up to her collar bone then a heart shape back down and around to the starting point. Think of your baby's belly like a clock. You are always moving in a clockwise rotation, gently and lovingly, making eye contact with baby. You can increase this stroke to rub down her arms and hands. As long as baby is happy and enjoying, you can do these strokes several times. From baby's shoulder, gently rub down to her hands. Ideally your hands never leave her body and strokes are smooth and rhythmic up and down. Move on to baby's legs. Knead and squeeze gently down to her feet one leg at a time. You can softly massage the soles of her feet as well.
If baby will have it, turn her onto her back and use the same stroke, up the back from the diaper and around to the starting point. Repeat about 5 strokes. The whole massage should last around 15 minutes. Remember, this is meant to be relaxing for both. If either you or baby are not feeling comfortable then stop the session and maybe try again another time. Don't get discouraged.
Any touch or cuddling that is genuine and loving and that comes from you, will greatly benefit your baby. So continue to practice and enjoy the healing properties of touch.