Up in Arms – Infant Massage for the Chest and Arms


Continuing on with the Infant Massage series, I am moving up from last week’s hip and leg routine to the arms and chest. By now, hopefully, you have gotten more comfortable with the strokes you are using and begun to relax and just have fun with your baby during this time. And, hopefully your baby is having as much fun as you! How do you know your baby is enjoying himself? A good indicator is that your baby is watching you while you give the massage, cooing or making other happy baby sounds and has relaxed muscle tone.

Chest & Arm Massage

Chest massage is great for baby’s lungs and especially useful if he is congested from a cold or having other breathing difficulties. The first step “resting hands” is also helpful to calm down a newborn who is fussy.

  • Place your open palms on baby’s chest and apply gently pressure
  • Move your palms out to the side of the chest following the ribcage, as if opening a book. Keep contact and move hands down and around, back to the center of the front of the ribcage. (picture making a heart with your hands) Slide hands up to the starting position and repeat.
  • Gently place open palms on baby’s chest again and bring your right hand diagonally across baby’s chest to the opposite shoulder, then slide back to starting point. Do the same with your opposite hand. Repeat several times, alternating hands.
  • Sweep hands from chest to tummy and all the way down to the feet to tie everything together.
  • Begin with one arm and gently hold baby’s arm in your hands
  • Bring baby’s arm over his head and gently stroke the armpit a few times from bottom to top
  • Bring the arm back down and begin “Indian Milking.” Using the same milking motion you did on the legs, make like you are climbing a rope and gently slide your hands, one over the other from shoulder to wrist.
  • Again mimicking the strokes used on the legs, take baby’s arm and use a  gentle squeeze and twist motion from the shoulder to the wrist. Your hands should be twisting in opposite directions.
  • Open baby’s hand with your thumb and gently roll each finger and the palm  between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Slide your fingers over the top of baby’s hand then make small circles around baby’s wrist.
  • Using the “Swedish Milking” technique repeat the motion for “indian Milking” only work in the opposite direction (from wrist to shoulder)
  • Rolling! (This one never stops being amusing) Pretend you are making a playdough snake out of baby’s arm and roll the arm back and forth between your open and flat palms. Wok from upper arm to wrist.
  • Integrate chest and arms by repeating the diagonal chest to shoulder move, but this time slide your hand over the shoulder and all the way to the hand. Repeat on the other side.
  • Again place palms on the chest and slide your hands outward, over the shoulders and down the arms (both arms at once)
  • Once again place your palms on chest. Again slide your hands toward the outside of the ribcage (both at once), but this time at the armpits “catch” the arms and using an open flat palm roll your hands up and down along the arm until you’ve reached the wrist. (your baby’s arms should be out like a “T” and your hands should be moving up and down as in head to toe)
  • Take both hands and again sweep them from shoulder to chest to tummy to legs to feet to integrate everything.

Some stretches …

  • Hold baby’s wrists in yor hands with your thumb in his palm and gently bring wrists together. Move wrists up to baby’s chest and back again. Do this several times.
  • Hold baby’s wrists and bring them together at the chest. Bring baby’s arms out to the sides like a “T” and very, very gently stretch. Then bring the arms over the body and gently cross them as if baby is hugging himself. This one is a hit if you coo “I” (wrists at chest) “Love” (arms out to sides) “YOU!” (arms hugging body) ** not a good one for newborns, save this for when baby is almost sitting **
  • Gently pull baby’s arm and opposite foot from each other in a diagonal motion. Switch and repeat.
  • Now bring baby’s hand toward his opposite knee, over the center of his body.
Remember never to force a stretch or massage move on your baby. If he is resisting your touch or a particular movement, then help him relax into the movement by reinforcing the direction he is holding his body. Gentle holding along with gently rocking and bouncing of an arm or leg can further help baby relax!
<—- Massage for the hips and legs                                     Massage for the tummy —->

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