Today’s article is a continuation from last week when I introduced infant massageas a fun, easy and rewarding bonding ritual between you and your baby with some interesting scientific research to back up the benefits. Nevertheless I still often hear comments likef: “I’m afraid I’m doing it wrong” or “How do I massage my baby?” So today will begin the first part of this series that discusses specific infant massage routines. But before we get to that I will go over some infant massage basics.
Lucky for you, you already have the two most important components necessary for a good infant massage: your baby and your hands! Besides that you will want to grab a soft towel or blanket for your baby to lay on – use something you don’t mind getting oil or lotion on. If the room is chilly use one to cover your baby as well. Ok, so any lotion that you see fit to put on your baby’s skin will work. But I do prefer to use an unscented, edible oil because it makes for a smoother massage and babies love the feel of the slippery oil. (Edible because babies put everything in their mouths.) Jojoba, coconut or grapeseed oils are good choices. Just remember that the oil does get absorbed into baby’s skin so if you are using a nut oil such as almond be sure your baby doesn’t have a nut allergy first.
Next, know you’re baby’s signals. Sometimes you just don’t want to be touched and babies often feel the same way. If your baby is fussing, squirming away from you and turning his/her head away then now may not be the best time for a massage. Don’t ever force massage time on your baby. Instead, try distracting baby with singing or play and try again. Watch for cues as you go. You may find your baby has preferences for or against certain areas of his/her body being touched.
And most importantly: don’t over think it. There is no wrong way to massage your baby. You do not need to follow any kind of routine or work for any set amount of time. Some days you may get only one leg in before baby has had enough. It’s no big deal! Singing, talking and smiling at your baby while you massage will heighten the sensory experience and really bring yours and baby’s focus onto each other. Just enjoy yourself and go with the flow – both you and your baby will be able to relax and fully enjoy the massage.
Infant Foot Massage
- Warm some oil in your hands then working one foot at a time, begin the massage.
- Starting at the ankle hold baby’s foot in your hand and gently, but firmly slide your hand down toward toes. Repeat several times.
- Hold baby’s foot in your hand and gently squeeze between your thumb and forefinger working along the top of the foot toward toes. Repeat.
- Hold baby’s ankle in your left hand and with the right hand slowly and gently rotate baby’s foot in small circles. Reverse direction.
- Remain in the same position and gently flex baby’s foot forward and backward.
- Using your thumb, start at the base of the heel and press along the bottom of baby’s foot up toward the toes.
- Use the pads of your thumb to make small circles on the ball of baby’s foot underneath the toes.
- Gently squeeze each little toe “This Little Piggy” style.
- With both thumbs on the bottom of baby’s heel, use the tips of your forefingers to massage circles around the ankle.
- Again hold baby’s whole foot in your hand and gently squeeze and slide from the ankle to toes being sure to gently press the tops and bottoms. Repeat several times.
- Repeat the whole routine or parts often as often as you and your baby like!