Infant massage promotes the bond between parent and helps your baby relax. Because massage is so beneficial to both baby and parent, it’s become a part of the bedtime routine for a lot of families, but it can be done at any time of day to ease a tummy ache, increase circulation, or soothe a tired, cranky baby. Here are a few massages to try incorporating into your routine with baby every day.
Infants sometimes wake in the middle of the night with horrible gas pains. Making a gentle tummy massage routine, along with a leg lift to the chest can help your baby expel gas to reduce stomach ache.
To massage the stomach, place your hands above baby’s belly button, then lightly begin to massage around the belly button to create a circle. Repeat as needed and adjust pressure based on your child and the amount of gas pain she’s experiencing.
Legs and Feet
After massaging your baby’s stomach, begin to rub her feet and legs using a circular motion to the feet. If she has painful gas, you may need to alternate between a leg massage and stomach massage to release some of the gas. Simply hold your baby’s legs at her feet and press down toward her stomach, then release.
A great foot massage can calm baby’s nerves. Even if you don’t have massage oil, rubbing baby’s feet while you hold her can be very beneficial to her sense of comfort. While holding your baby’s foot in your hand, place your thumbs next to each other at baby’s heel. Rub with light pressure in an upward and circular motion with both thumbs until you reach baby’s toes. Continue to massage and lightly lift each toe, then move on to the next foot.
Some parents begin their massage session at the chest. Start under your child’s chin and gently massage in a heart shape, moving up to the shoulders then down to the lower chest. Some babies don’t like this massage, while others do — you’ll learn this about your little one soon enough.
Arms and Hands
After massaging your baby’s chest, make your way down the side of her left shoulder and rub her arm using your thumbs. Once you reach her hand, move your thumbs in a circular and upward motion in the palms of baby’s hand toward her fingers. Then massage and each finger. Repeat massage on the right side.
Though massaging baby’s arm may not always be necessary, massaging your baby’s hand either by rubbing her palm with your thumb or simply holding her hand can promote bonding and security.
To massage baby’s back, start at her shoulders and move your hands away from one another then down to create a heart shape. Continue in a straight line down the rest of her back. Depending on your baby, you can continue to massage her back in a circular motion with your hands or using just your thumbs.
When rubbing your baby’s back, be careful of her head and neck, and be sure that her head is either turned to the side for breathing, or that she’s old enough to hold her head up for the minute or so you rub her back
There are several different massages you can try for your baby’s head. Which massage you choose to use depends on the age/development of your baby and what she prefers. Always be careful around the soft spot on baby’s head.
Using the tips of your fingers, gently massage baby’s face starting from between her eyebrows. Move your fingers up above her brows and down along the sides of her head. Feel her earlobes and massage the ends.
Other massages to try on the head and face are an eye massage where you use your middle finger to lightly trace the circle around baby’s eyes, and rubbing your palm down over baby’s forehead to her eyelids to encourage rest.