Infant massage is the art of a mother’s touch to ‘make it better’.
It creates relaxation through your babies whole body. It is a form of touch that will help you develop a relationship with each of your babies and will help you understand them and their individual needs better.
As your newborn babies slowly begin to uncurl from their squished up little fetal positions, massaging them will help you to stretch out their little muscles and joints and help give their movements some balance and co-ordination. It helps to prepare their bodies for movement and for relaxation. It helps to stimulate the circulatory system and can help with regulating the heart rate, breathing and your babies digestive system.
The benefits for you as the mother is that touching your babies in this way can help your body produce prolactin which will increase your milk production and help you to relax more. I think it also helps you feel more confident in physically doing something to make your babies feel better.
Getting Ready for Infant Massage
As you prepare to do some infant massage , remember that this doesn’t need to be a big production , newborns don’t have a very long attention span. This is something that you should try to incorporate as part of a daily routine to help your babies relax fully. This will teach your babies to learn to relax at a young age which will help them as they grow up.
Make sure that your baby is not overtired, or hungry or really grouchy and stop if you feel it’s not working at the moment. If your babies are screaming, you will not be relaxed and therefore won’t be able to pass on the benefits of massage.
What You’ll Need
Give yourself about 15 minutes , find a quiet place, maybe play some soothing music and make sure that you are feeling relaxed yourself. The room should be warm and not drafty and find a comfortable blanket or thick towel to lay down . Infant massage is best performed after your baby(s) bath and you’ll want something handy in case of an accident . Keep a diaper and some wipes nearby too – you just never know .
You’ll want to have a gentle oil to use – we used virgin olive oil but you may use what you like – just don’t use something too perfumed as it may irritate your baby’s skin. This helps your hands to slide gently. Some moms like to use a baby lotion but I find it absorbs too quickly into the skin. Never pour the oil onto your baby as it will feel cold and make them tense up. Pour some into the palm of your hands and rub them together to warm it up. Start with a very gentle touch as you and your baby get used to infant massage. You can use this time to talk with your baby , as you touch a leg, say LEG, same for when you massage the tummy, arm, hand etc.
If you are feeling relaxed, your baby will see that on your face. Baby massage is meant to be playful as well as therapeutic for both of you . If your baby is just not into it for some reason , don’t worry and try again tomorrow. Once they are accustomed to infant massage, you will find it very easy to calm them down quickly when they are upset, so this is really worth learning. When you have twins, being able to stop the crying is a sanity saver for you .
Some techniques to try
Using infant massage on your baby’s tummy will help with digestion and relieve gas pains and constipation. These strokes should end at the lower part of your baby’s tummy on the left hand side. ( your right when facing baby). You want to move everything down towards the bowel.
I Love You – make a down stroke on your baby’s tummy that spells the letter “I”. Then make an upside down “L” going from your left to right for “love”, and then make an upside down “U” going from your left to right. As you do this tell your baby ” I love you ” and watch them smile.
Walking Fingers – using just your fingertips, walk across baby’s tummy from your left to right and feel the gas bubbles run away under your touches.
Scooping Sand – take the outside of each hand and make scooping movements on your baby’s tummy with one hand following the other, as if you were scooping a pile of sand toward yourself. You can also lift your babies legs up with your left hand and repeat the scooping motion with your right to deepen the massage. Back – Roll your baby on their tummy to do their back with a gentle back and forth motion stroking down the spine to the buttocks and then back up to the shoulders.
Legs and arms – you can roll the gently legs between your palms like you were trying to light a fire with sticks or you can squeeze and twist the legs, slightly going in different directions with your hands.
Gently rub the lymph nodes under your baby’s armpits as you lift the arm up (very ticklish babies may squirm from this one.)
Heart – gently trace a heart shape on your baby’s chest
Face – gently massage the cheeks, the temples and between the eyes with your thumbs.
Hands – taking hold of your baby’s hand, open the palm and take one index finger and gently draw a circle in the palm , round and round.
Feet -gently use your thumbs to press and stroke from baby’s heels to their toes, you can wiggle each toe one at a time and play ‘ this little piggy’. Feet can be quite ticklish during this form of infant massage.
For older kids –
My kids ALL love this – you talk while doing it – your kids will teach it to each other.
“Going on a treasure hunt” – walk your fingers all the way up their back
“X marks the spot” draw a big X ACROSS their back
” 2 lines and a question mark ” draw 2 lines DOWN their back and then a question mark right in the middle.
” ants are crawling up your back ” walk your fingers quickly up their back – when you get to their shoulders say ” they bite, they bite they bite” and SQUEEZE the muscles between their neck and shoulders 3 times ( one for each “they bite”)
” spiders are crawling up your back they bite, they bite , they bite” same thing –
then squeeze their shoulders from the outside and say ‘tight squeeze’
lift their hair and blow on the back of their neck and say ‘ cool breeze’
Now you’ve got the SHIVERIES !!!
LOL Seriously – kids love this and it feels good – you’ll want them to do it to you too.
Any kind of touching and stroking will help your baby relax as long as it is done with loving care. Your baby will feel cherished and happy and over time you will find a more relaxed baby. With twins, you may find different techniques work better with each baby. One may be more wiggly or ticklish. One may relax completely when you rub their palm. Infant massage is a wonderful way to get to know each of your babies AND give them a little one on one mommy (or daddy )time.