Infant massage is a wonderful skill to learn. You want to connect with your baby in the most natural way possible. Touch is an excellent way to bond and infant massage allows you to build a bond in the most gentle, soothing way.
Infant massage has many benefits to both you and your baby. Besides encouraging important bonds to for between you and your child massage helps your baby relax, build trust, and become healthier.
Getting Started with Infant Massage
Before you get started with your baby prepare the area you will give the massage. You want to be sure it is completely comfortable and relaxing for baby and for you.
Deciding where to give an infant massage
Select a soft area for your baby. This could be on your bed (put yourself between your baby and the edge) or it could be on the floor. Try some soft blankets or a sheepskin on the floor.
If it hurts your back to be on the floor you might try creating a soft surface for your baby on a counter. Then you can stand beside your baby. Or try a low counter and pull up a chair for yourself. As always, be very cautious because babies are wiggly!
You will probably want to place an extra blanket washable over the surface you are working on. This will protect the surface from any oil that may rub off your baby and your hands. If you choose to massage baby diaper-less it will also protect from accidents.
Temperature and Lighting
Make sure that the room you're giving the infant massage in is warm. Your baby will be undressed down to the diaper or completely naked. You want to make sure that he is warm enough.
Infants and young children are not as good at regulating their body temperature as adults are. Newborns and premature infants have an especially hard time regulating body temperature and need you to be sure they are warm enough.
If you feel like your baby is getting cold cover the areas you're not massaging, leave a cap on baby's head, or pick up and cuddle your little one skin to skin for a few minutes.
Try to make the lighting low. Bright lights will irritate your baby's eyes. Muted daylight is wonderful. At night you might try a low lamp.
Choose Your Oil
When you give an infant massage you'll want to rub a little oil onto your hands. Do not use “baby oil.” Baby oils are usually a mineral based oil that actually rob your baby's skin of moisture and clog pores. Use a plant-based oil.
You can choose oils that have quite a few different bases or you can use a simple oil from your kitchen. Olive oil, almond oil, and sunflower oils are very gentle for your baby's skin. You may prefer an oil that has been mixed for massage or scented naturally. Lavender massage oil is very soothing to baby.
You and Baby – Giving the Infant Massage
Undress your baby to the diaper, or take of the diaper if you'd like. Make sure that your baby has been fed and feels good. You may be able to use massage to calm your fussy baby, but as you are both learning about infant massage it is best to do it at a time when your baby is content.
Use light but confident touch as you massage your baby. Babies do not want the deep pressure that you might like. They do like for you to use long and firm strokes.
Begin at your baby's legs. This is an area that baby is used to having touched. It's a good place to start with. You can begin with the feet and work up the body to the top of your baby's head. Rub your baby's feet firmly and use a “milking motion” up the legs.
After your baby's feet and legs move on to the stomach. Use firm and gentle motions. Begin on your baby's right side (your left) and massage from the hip-bone up to the belly button. Then massage from the same hip-bone and over across the belly button. Finally begin at the hip-bone, move up, over, and across the belly button and back down to your baby's left hip-bone. This is often called an “I Love You” massage because you first stroke is an “I” shape, the second stroke is an “L” shape, and the third stroke is a “U” shape.
After the tummy gently massage baby's chest then move on to the arms and hands. You can use the same “milking” motion on the arms and gently but firmly rub the palms of your baby's hands.
Next you can go to the face, brushing gently all across tension points to help relax your baby. Finally turn your baby over and work on massage the back. Remember to use firm but gentle strokes.
Re-apply oil whenever needed to help smooth over baby's body. You may wish to learn even more strokes to give baby a longer, soothing massage. There are many baby massage courses you can learn from.