Sunday, August 12, 2012

Infant Massage

Image to be added soon.
(As soon as I can get my husband to take a picture!)

When my daughter was an infant, after her baths (and other times, since I didn't give her baths everyday right away) I would give her little baby massages. Nothing intense, just simple and gentle forms of massage with a vegetable based oil or organic lotion. Even now she enjoys the massages after her bath times and she's a toddler. They calm and relax her and get her feeling sleepy, which is perfect after her baths or right before nap times.

Cultures all around the world have practiced forms of infant massage for thousands of years, as a mommy or daddy's touch is deeply reassuring and comforting for infants, especially if it's done gently and calmly. A mild massage will stimulate your baby's circulation and sense of touch, as well as his awareness of his body, tactile stimulation, and social and emotional development.

Find a warm place to lay your baby, you can remove his diaper and place a towel under him to prevent mess if he has an accident, or you can leave his diaper on. You can use a vegetable based oil, or an organic lotion (my favorite is Burt's Bees) but try to avoid too many baby oil and other petroleum-based products.

To massage my daughter I start with her arms, using a milking motion as I squeeze down each arm and then each of her legs. Then I place the outer edges of my hands in the center of her chest and slowly bring my palms down onto her skin as I moved them towards her arms. I use my thumbs to massage the bottom of her feet, and depending on her age, certain massages helped to relax her muscles when she was learning to use them. For instance, when she was learning to hold her head up, I would take extra time to massage her neck muscles. If she was tense, sore or knotted up, you can bet that sure helped her out!

To massage your baby's face, place your fingertips in the middle of his temples, and make small gentle circles. Then place your fingertips in the center of his forehead and drag them slowly out over his eyebrows. Then, gently move your fingertips or thumbs down along the bridge of his nose, around his nostrils, down around the corners of his mouth and to his chin.

Sing to your baby sweetly while you massage him if you'd like, babies love to feel your touch and hear your voice. As my daughter got older, I would talk about the body part I was massaging and tell her what things she could do with it. For example, I would massage down her arm and say, "I'm massaging your arm. That feels good and relaxing. You can use your arm to hug your dolly." There are a lot of different ways you can go about it, it's all up to you, but remember that research shows that babies who are touched and held more, have increased immune functions, greater production of growth hormones, and improved muscle development!

Now that my daughter is two she loves getting back massages. Whenever I try to massage her arms or legs she stops me and tells me, "back!" If she's really tired or sore, I can almost put her to sleep giving her massages. Now let's just hope one day in my old age, she'll return the favor! ;)

I'd like to thank the writers of Baby Play, who first inspired me to try infant massage and who I was able to gather extra information from to create this entry.

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