Copyright (c) 2013 Liddle Kidz Foundation Infant and Children’s Pediatric Massage
In this article we will focus on massage strokes centered on infants, but these can be modified for older children as well. To get started, first relax! It is important to be calm and flexible for your child, all of us know children do not like to stay in one spot and that’s okay! Allow your child to move freely during the massage. Before you begin, talk in a calm voice and smile at her. This will help stimulate her senses and make her feel more comfortable. Permission is important. Always ask your child if they would like to receive a massage by making eye contact and verbally asking out loud, “Is it okay if I give you a massage?” Remember, don’t take it personally if your child doesn’t want to receive a massage. Respect their independence, right to say no to unwanted touch and ability to make choices. Keep baby warm and cover areas you will not be massaging. You can massage over clothing (without oil), or by placing your hands directly on your baby’s skin. If you want to massage directly on the skin, I would recommend you use a little oil. The warmth of the skin to skin contact can be very helpful for relaxation, stimulation and constipation. Warm your hands by rubbing them together. This will help your baby to recognize this cue as “massage time”.
If your little one is laying down facing you, start by placing your warmed hands around the top of baby’s leg at the hip cupping her leg, gently stroke downward towards her foot. Do not put any pressure on baby’s knee or ankle, then stroke the bottom of her foot and gently hug each little toe. Next kiss her feet, babies love this! Repeat these strokes on the opposite leg. The tummy should not be massaged right after eating. If baby has not recently eaten (within 30 minutes), go ahead and introduce your touch to her belly. Place your hands at her belly button and move them in a clockwise motion. This movement can help ease the pains associated with gas, constipation and has been known to ease colic. Next, go ahead and move on to her arms. Repeat the same soothing strokes that we used on the legs. While doing massage, continue to make eye contact and check in with her. If you like singing or telling stories, go for it. Whatever makes you both feel relaxed is perfect! Continue massage only as long as you and baby are enjoying it. If she is still enjoying her massage, continue. If not, feel free to let her be the boss. Babies are really good at letting us know when they’ve had enough. Now, move on to her back. Stroke her back, starting at the shoulders, over bum and down the legs, showing extra care not to put any pressure on her spine, continue stroking her back a few times.
Creating a consistent massage time with your infant will make it infinitely easier to continue the tradition as they grow. Massage will benefit both you and your child and is a drug-free alternative to keeping anxiety at bay!
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