Infant massage is gaining popularity in western culture due to its many wonderful benefits for baby. Parents of colicky babies have discovered that massage helps to calm even the fussiest child down. Also, babies are prepared for bedtime easier with a relaxing massage and it is good for muscle and brain development. The greatest part is, you don’t need a license to learn how to do infant massage. All you need is a baby, a bottle of lotion, and a few minutes at the end of the day.
The first step to massaging your baby is to pick the right time and place. As it is a means to calm your baby, it is usually recommended as part of your bedtime ritual. An added bonus of the massage is it helps babies sleep sounder and longer. A dimly lit room with as little noise as possible is conducive to relaxation. Maybe some soft, classical music or white noise will enhance the experience. Then, you should always “ask” baby if you can give him a massage. Does he seem ready for it or is he still too distracted by something? Make sure he is ready to receive the massage, then you can begin.
Undress your baby down to his diaper and mind the temperature of the room. If it is too cold, then you may have to make do with him in a onesie. (His birthday suit would be the optimum for a massage, but then you’d be risking a mess!) Now comfortably lying on his back in his diaper, dispense some baby lotion onto your hands. Rub your hands together first before you touch baby. Cold lotion would definitely break the relaxing spell! Baby Magic makes a calming lotion with chamomile and lavender that is perfect for infant massage.
A simple massage to start with is the “I Love You” stroke. With pads of your fingers, firmly run down the left side of his abdomen in an “I” motion from top to bottom. Be sure to stay below the ribcage. Next, rub across the top of the abdomen, under the rib cage, and down the left side in an upside down “L” motion. After that, you will spell out an upside down “U” around the baby’s navel. The “I Love You” stroke helps digestion and can aid a gassy or colicky baby.
There are many different instructional books and videos on infant massage. Some favor Indian or Swedish techniques, while some are combination of many different styles. Doing research will greatly benefit you, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. What is necessary is that you relax and enjoy yourself. If baby senses that you are calm then he will be more willing to let you guide him on this wonderful journey.