How old does my baby have to be:
Babies of any age usually enjoy being massaged. Young babies enjoy the feeling of relaxation after a massage, and toddlers who may be experiencing "growing pains" appreciate the relief a massage gives.
How to Begin:
Begin by laying a towel or blanket of some kind out on the floor. Otherwise laying the child down on a bed works. You also will need to have a bottle of either baby oil or lotion. First, apply the lotion or oil to one of the child’s legs, but don’t rub in just coat the leg. Begin by massaging the baby’s legs. When massaging the legs, do all of the strokes on one leg then repeat the same strokes on the other leg. By doing this, you gradually encourage relaxation in each of baby’s legs.
Support baby’s foot with one hand and stroke the leg beginning at the buttocks and moving down the leg toward the ankle. Switch hands, holding baby’s foot with your other hand and stroking baby’s leg down to the ankle. It may help to hold your hand in a "C" shape while stroking baby’s leg. Continue repeating the milking stroke alternating your hands so that you first stroke the outside and then the inside of the leg.
Squeeze and Twist:
Using the "C" shape of your hands, starting at baby’s hip hold the leg with both hands close together, alternate a gentle squeezing and twisting motion from the hip to the ankle.
Stroke up Sole to Foot:
Begin by stroking the bottom of baby’s foot from the heel to the toes with your thumbs, one after another.
Squeeze Each Toe:
Gently squeeze each toe. This is a great time to recite:
This little piggy went to the market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way home.
Press gently all over the bottom of baby’s foot with your thumbs.
Stroking Top of Foot:
Stroke the top of the foot toward the ankle.
Support baby’s foot with your hand. Using a "C" shaped hand, stroke the leg from the ankle to the hip with a smooth downward stroke. Alternate hands to massage both sides of the baby’s leg.
This is a good time to use Touch Relaxation by supporting baby’s legs behind the knees and gently rocking the legs to encourage baby to relax and release any tension she may be feeling in her legs. Tell baby to "relax" and " let go" as you supportively rock the legs, and praise baby when you feel her respond to your touch and voice.
Stomach strokes help tone the intestinal system and relieve gas and constipation. It is very important that these strokes be done in a circular clockwise direction on baby’s stomach. If baby is lying on their back, imagine that the head is at and that her feet are at . Your hands move in the same direction as the hands of a clock.
Using the sides of your hands, make paddling strokes on baby’s stomach, one hand following the other, as if you were scooping sand toward yourself. Start below the ribs and move into the lower abdomen. Stroke hand over hand with a gentle but firm pressure.
Thumbs to Sides:
With your thumbs at the level of baby’s bellybutton, stroke out to the sides. Be gentle and do not poke.
Your left hand begins by making a full circle on baby’s stomach, moving clockwise. Your right hand makes a half circle or crescent moon in a clockwise direction starting at about on baby’s tummy and stoke down to . Then lift your right hand up and over your left hand making the continuous circular "sun" strokes. Massage around and around with your hands like the hands of a clock.
I Love You:
This is a three-part stroke, which spells out the message "I love you" to the baby. Baby loves a high-pitched voice saying "I love you" as you share this stroke.
"I": make a vertical I-shaped stroke on the left side of baby’s stomach.
"Love": make a backward upside down L-shaped stroke moving from your left to right, as if you are reading words on a page.
"You": make an upside down U-shaped stroke from your left to right.
Massaging baby’s chest will help tone the lungs and heart. Imagine you are filling the child’s heart with love.
Stroke from the center to the side of baby’s chest, following the rib cage, as if you are smoothing the pages of a book using the flats of your hands. Bring your hands around in a heart-shaped motion to the center again and repeat the stroke.
Begin with both hands at baby’s sides, at the bottom of the rib cage. Move your right hand across baby’s chest diagonally to baby’s right shoulder. Massage the shoulder very gently. Move your hand down across baby’s chest to its original position. Repeat with your left hand moving up and across to baby’s left shoulder. Follow one hand after the other, rhythmically crisscrossing baby’s chest.
Arms and Hands:
These strokes are similar to those for the legs and feet. Baby receives the benefits of increased circulation and warmth for their arms and hands as well as a release of tension. Never forcibly pull the baby’s arms away from their body to do a stroke, but gently stroke the arm allowing baby to relax and gradually extend their arm to you.
Hold baby’s wrist with in your hand. With your other hand in the "C" shape, start at baby’s shoulder and stroke smoothly down to their hand. Alternate hands and repeat the stroke. Continue this stroke, alternating hands, making contact with the inner and outer areas of the arm. Imagine stress and tension leaving baby’s body through the fingertips.
Squeeze and Twist:
Begin at baby’s upper arm, use the "C" shape of your hands and slowly squeeze and twist both hands moving down baby’s arm to the wrist using gentle pressure.
Stroke baby’s palm gently with your thumbs. If the baby is making a tight fist in a reflex response, gently stroke the tops of the fingers to encourage baby to relax and open their hand to you.
Stroke Each Finger:
Gently squeeze and stroke each tiny finger between your thumb and fingers.
Top of Hand:
Gently stroke the top of baby’s hand from the wrist to the fingers.
Small Circles Around Wrist:
Massage the baby’s wrist by making small circles all around it front to back.
Support baby’s wrist, and stroke up from the wrist to the shoulder. Continue this stroke, alternating your hands, using firm, smooth strokes.
Strokes for the Back:
The back massage strokes are very relaxing, and are favorites of both babies and toddlers. Lay the baby on their stomach. Talk to the baby while he is on his tummy. Your voice contact is important since he can’t see you.
Back and Forth:
Begin with both hands together at the top of baby’s back. Glide your relaxed hands back and forth, in opposite directions, going down the back to the buttocks, then up to the shoulders, and back down again.
Swooping to Bottom:
Cup baby’s buttocks with one hand. Beginning at baby’s neck, your other hand glides down smoothly to the buttocks. Repeat the swooping stroke several times.
Swooping to Ankles:
Support the baby’s feet with one hand and repeat the swooping strokes with your other hand moving all the way down the legs to baby’s feet.
Small Circles All Over Back:
Use your fingertips to massage small circles on both sides of baby’s spine moving all over the back. Be sure to massage small circles on baby’s hips and buttocks, too. Avoid doing these circles directly on the spine.
With your hand open and fingers spread apart, gently "comb" baby’s back starting at the neck and moving to the buttocks. Your strokes become gradually lighter each time. Repeat several times. End with a very light "feather" touch. You may also begin with baby’s head and stroke down the back.
Advantages of Baby Massage:
How to Learn More: