Little Green Angels

How to Massage your Baby

The importance of touch in pregnancy, childbirth and infancy is undeniably, the most enjoyable way to improve the development, health and well being of your baby. Massage makes use of the mother and father’s desire to touch and caress their child using soothing, healing and relaxing techniques that affects both the infant’s and parent’s contentment. It is important to perform the massage strokes and techniques in the correct way to get the full benefits and to choose a time when the baby is not hungry and preferably, just before bath time. Massage is the methodical rubbing and stroking of the soft tissues of the body, and is described as a touch therapy. Touch and massage are essential elements in the healthy development of infants in the early months of life. Research shows that babies receiving massage from their mothers have increased nerve and brain cell growth and better cell activity and hormonal growth.

Get yourself and your baby comfortable

Find a comfortable position for massaging your baby by sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched and your back supported against the furniture. The knees should be bent slightly outward, with the soles of the feet touching each other. This is called the cradle pose, which is recommended by many therapists for massaging newborns. The cradle created by the legs can then be padded with blankets and then place the infant in the center. This position will help your baby feel secure and warm. If your baby's head is placed at the arches of your feet, it will be able to look at you. Newborns have quite a short attention span so the massage should be made up of only a few repetitions of each technique. Remember that most of your movements should come from the lower back. It is best to perform a full sequence everyday, accompanied by a nursery rhyme or constant talking. As the baby grows to enjoy these sessions, you can increase the time you spend on the massage. When preparing for infant massage, experts recommend that you use oil on the baby's skin to prevent friction. Choosing the right oil is important to avoid irritating the skin, so try to not use products that contain petroleum or mineral oils and synthetic preservatives and perfumes that can be transferred through the skin into the blood stream.

How to massage the head
Touch the forehead, temples and the base of the skull, eyebrows and eyelids, nose, cheeks the area around the mouth, ears and surrounding area.

And the jaws
Gently make small strokes and massage the back part of the neck with slow movements down to the shoulders. Softly put both hands on the shoulders. Caress the baby from the neck to the shoulders in the direction of his chest.

How to massage the shoulders and arms
Form a ring with your fingers and thumb around your child's arm. Begin to stroke around the armpit and then down along the arm. Be very careful when you arrive at the elbow, it is a very sensitive region.

How to massage the stomach
Massage the stomach in a circular way (the genitalia area is excluded from the massage). Caress the abdomen moving your hands clockwise beginning below the ribs.

How to massage the Legs
Caress each leg with your whole hand. Press gently on the thighs. Gently bend the knees pressing the thighs softly against the body.

How to massage the feet
Begin by putting soft pressure on each toe, and then the foot. Return to the toes again. Gently caress all of the toes. Apply circular movements at the heels. A foot massage is very relaxing and sometimes can help reduce stomach pain.

How to massage the back
Turn your baby over onto its’ tummy but make sure that the baby’s face is not buried in the blankets. Always in one direction only, begin with large and slow movements that include the head, neck, back and legs. Massaging with your fingertips with circular movements, give the baby soft strokes on the shoulders and back. Do not massage the spinal cord . Only place your hands over the baby’s spine so that it can feel the warmth from your hands. Put your hands at the top of the legs and begin gently caressing while working your way down towards the foot.

Information reproduced with permission of Natracare.
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