Giving the baby a full body massage can appear to be a daunting task for the father, but in this article we have made it extremely simple and easy to follow.
Massaging the baby can have various health benefits, both physical and psychological. It helps with stimulating the nervous systems, and soothing the muscles. It also helps aid in overall growth and also improves the quality of sleep of the baby
Basic Setup For the Massage:
Start your baby massage with the following setup:
- Sit on a bed or soft carpeted floor with a towel in front of you. You can also place a towel on a table to massage your little one while you stand. The towel helps absorb excess oil.
- Maintain a comfortable room temperature. During winters, ensure that the room is warm and during summers make sure there is ample circulation of cool and fresh air in the room. Babies do feel warm quickly and tend to become cranky.
- Lighting in the room is important and use as much natural light as possible.
- Choose a massage oil that is specifically made for babies. Select unscented oils, with natural fragrances and no added perfumes.
- You can choose to massage your baby with or without the nappy, but you can loosen it when massaging his tummy. Massaging without nappy may increase the risk of accidental soiling, but it also ensures that you massage every part of his body.
Let’s move on to the actual process of massaging the baby. Here is a step-by-step guide to massage your baby in the right manner:
Step 1 – Seeking the permission:
The first step is to take your baby’s ‘permission’ since you would not like to give him a massage when he is not interested. The simple way to do this is by taking some oil in your palms and rubbing it gently on the baby’s tummy and behind his ears, and observe his body language. If he resists being touched or grumbles and cries when massaging, then it is probably not the right time, yet. If he shows positive signs and seems okay with what you are doing, then you can go ahead with the massage.
Keep in mind that, initially, your baby may seem uncomfortable with the massage as it is a new experience. But as he gets used to it, he is less likely to resist it and instead tends to enjoy it.
Step 2 – Massaging the legs:
- Start with the baby’s feet. Rub some drops of oil on your palms and begin massaging the baby’s soles. Massage the heels up to the toes with your thumbs. Then, using your palm, stroke the bottom and top of the baby’s foot. Slowly, make circles with your thumb all over the bottom of each foot and then to the toes. Do not pull any toe like they do in adult foot massage. Instead, lightly massage each toe right to the tip. This will help stimulate nerve endings.
- Lift one of the legs and make gentle strokes on the ankle and slowly extend it towards the thighs. Gently stroke from the foot up to the thigh. You can also massage both the legs at once if your baby is calm and relaxed.
- You end the leg massage by gently grasping the thighs with both your hands. Slowly stroke down from thigh to the foot, like how you would wring a towel.
Step 3 – Moving to the arms:
- After the legs have been massaged, the arms should be massaged. The pattern of massaging is quite similar to the legs. Hold the baby’s hands and make circular strokes on the palms. Slowly make small strokes on the baby’s fingers moving towards the tips of the fingers.
- Turn his hand around and now gently massage the back of his hand with straight strokes towards the wrist. Then, gently massage his wrists in circular motions, like putting on bangles.
- Move your strokes slowly towards his forearm and then towards the upper arm. Massage entire arm with gentle circular motions as if you are wringing a towel.
Step 4 – Chest and shoulder massage:
- Make gentle strokes in tandem from the left and right shoulder towards the chest of the baby. You can then trace your hand back to the shoulder. Repeat the motion gently.Next, place both your hands at the center of your baby’s chest and rub outwards from the body – towards the lateral side.
- Make gentle strokes outwards from the bottom of the sternum, the chest bone, across the chest, as if tracing a heart shape.
Step 5 – Time for tummy massage:
- Next comes the baby’s stomach. Remember, this is a delicate area, and therefore you must avoid even the slightest of pressures. You start your stroke from the top of the belly right below the chest bone. Place your palm gently below the chest bone and make clockwise circular strokes across the belly – all around the belly button. Do not apply any pressure and let your hand gently glide across the belly.
- Continue the circular motions in clockwise direction while avoiding the belly button. In young babies, the belly button/navel can be sensitive and delicate since they would have recently shed their umbilical cord stub.
Step 6 – Massaging face and head:
- Massaging the face and head can be challenging since babies tend to move a lot. But it is as important as massaging the other parts of the body. Begin by placing the tip of your index finger at the center of your baby’s forehead and slowly stroking along the outline of his face towards his chin. From the chin, move your finger towards his cheeks and massage his cheeks gently in a circular motion. Repeat the strokes a few times.
- After massaging the face, start massaging the scalp with the fingertip like you are shampooing the baby’s hair. Use gentle pressure from your fingertip and do not apply any extra pressure since the baby’s skull is delicate.
- You can even massage the baby’s forehead gently by moving your fingers outwards from the center of the forehead.
Step 7 – Finally the back:
- It is finally time to turn your baby around and massage his back. Place your baby outstretched on his tummy with his hands at the front and not on the sides.
- Place your fingertips on the baby’s upper back and trace clockwise circles while slowly moving the strokes towards his buttocks.
- You then place your index finger and middle finger on either side of the upper spine and very gently move the fingers all the way to the buttocks. Repeat the strokes a few times. Do not place the fingers on the spine. Instead, place two fingers on either side of the spinal groove and run them down.
Massage the baby’s shoulder blades with gentle clockwise circular strokes. Make same gentle strokes at the baby’s lower back and buttocks. End the massage with this last stroke. Apart from the above-mentioned baby massage techniques, there are other effective massages for the baby that work great in certain situations or conditions.