Goodbye Bubbles – Infant Massage for the Tummy

Feet? Check! Legs? Check! Hips, arms, chest? Check, check and check! If you’ve been following this series on infant massage and testing out the moves you’ve learned, then by now your little sweetie should be oozing feel-good vibes. And you’re probably feeling pretty in the zone too. See? I told you this was easy and fun!

Photo by: 楊曼妮的閒晃世界Mani Yang's lounging world

The next logical place to go is to the tummy, which happens to be my favorite squishy little spot of all! Not only does tummy massage often bring giggles it is also a great (GREAT!) way to relieve gas bubbles and constipation. In fact, a little tummy massage in combination with a few yoga moves were a more than daily occurrence in my household back when my little bean was an even tinier bean.

The very important thing to remember when doing tummy massage is how the intestines are positioned in your baby’s belly. You want to remember that the part of the intestines that eliminates is located on the lower left side of the baby’s tummy. So you always want to do strokes with this in mind and the idea that you are “pushing things” through and out of the intestinal system. Which means always move your hands from top to bottom and in a clockwise pattern when doing circular strokes.

Tummy Massage

  1. Start with your hands lightly resting on baby;s tummy
  2. With your hands across baby’s tummy (fingers pointing to either side) scoop your right hand toward the bottom of the belly as you bring your opposite hand over the moving hand and then scoop that hand down as well in a “paddling” motion. Repeat this a few times smoothly moving one hand over the other as though you are scooping the tummy downward.
  3. Place your thumbs flat just at the belly button and slide the thumbs outward toward baby;s sides while apply light but firm pressure.
  4. “I Love You” So named so you can remember the order of the strokes. What you want to do here is use the flat of your fingers to move things along the intestine, but much like a tangled hair knot, you don’t want to just comb the whole thing out, but rather start at the end and work your way back. You can literally feel the gas bubbles moving with this one!
    • Place fingers (mainly the middle three) on baby’s left side, below ribs (This will be YOUR right side as you look at baby) firmly but gently, stroke downward. (One straight line – the letter “I”) repeat a few times.
    • Now place fingers on the baby’s right side below the ribcage (Your left this time) and stroke across the belly toward the right side then turn and stroke down ending on baby’s lower left tummy as before (Making an “L” shape) Repeat a few times.
    • This time start the stroke at the bottom of baby’s right tummy (Again – your left) Now follow the stroke up, over the tummy and down ending once again at the lower left tummy. (Making a “U” shape) Repeat a few times.
  5. Using the pads of your fingers and firm but gentle pressure make a circular motion around tummy in a CLOCKWISE pattern using both hands in an alternating pattern. Repeat several times.
  6. Bicycle legs: alternate bringing each leg to baby’s tummy and holding for a moment
  7. Bring both knees at same time to baby’s tummy and gently press into the tummy. I also like to add a gentle side-to-side rocking at this point. Hold for a moment, release and repeat a few times. This is an incredible way to relieve baby gas pains!
  8. You can also repeat the last step but instead of pressing legs into tummy use your dominant hand to repeat the downward tummy scooping from step 2 as you hold baby’s knees up
  9. If your baby is particularly gassy or constipated, I recommend repeating the tummy routine to really move things along once they’ve had a chance to loosen up.
And that, my friends, wraps up the infant massage series! Is this series the final word on infant massage? No, of course not! There are many other massage techniques and yoga moves you can use – and remember there really is no right and wrong. You can also apply gentle strokes to the head, face and back of baby in addition to the areas talked about here. Hopefully though, this series has left you with a better grasp on what infant massage is all about, more confidence to give it a try and a good routine to start with. I’d love to hear about your experiences massaging your baby!

<—- Massage for the arms and chest    


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