Tips for Giving Your Baby a Massage

Tips for Giving Your Baby a Massage

Today’s tip is brought to you by
Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

Aside from being a great way to bond with your baby, infant massage offers may benefits. It can help ease your baby’s tummy troubles and teething pains, boost muscle development, calm him when fussy, and soothe him to sleep.

Preparing for Massage:

Do something to calm yourself before beginning. If you are not relaxed, your baby will have difficulty relaxing. Take a slow, deep breath. Slowly rotate your neck from side to side. Gently lift and roll your shoulders.

Find a quiet, comfortable place.
Choose the location carefully as it will come to represent a quiet, calm location for your baby. Choose a place that is comfortable, warm and free from distractions. Options include the floor, your lap, a bed, or a beanbag chair.

Gather materials.
You will need a large beach towel or blanket, pillow, extra diaper and body lotion.

Establish a routine.
Depending on the time of day, you may want to choose to use massage to increase muscle activity in the morning or to relax muscle tone at bedtime.

Beginning the Massage

Place your baby in a comfortable position.
Adapt your position to accommodate your baby. For infants, you may want to sit on the floor with your back against a wall. Cross your ankles and bend your knees to form a ring. Place your baby on a towel in the ring with his head resting on your ankles. If your baby has increased extensor tone (arching) in the back and is unable to raise his or her legs when lying on back, place a rolled towel under the pelvis.

Remove rings and any jewelry that might scratch your baby.

Warm massage lotion.
Rub the lotion between your hands to warm. 

Give your baby a cue that it is time for massage.
Choose a time when your baby is alert, quiet and receptive, and a time when he or she is not too tired or hungry. Ask for permission before you begin and respect your baby’s right to indicate “yes” or “no” to the massage.

Begin the Massage Sequence

Start with the feet and move upward to the face.
A variety of techniques can be used for each part of the body. Over time you will learn which techniques your baby prefers. Be flexible and watch for signs that indicate that it is time to move on to another stroke or a different part of the body.

Adapt your touch to your baby.
Some infants prefer light touch and others like deep pressure. Usually infants like gentle, yet firm and secure pressure.

Notice Your Baby’s Response.
If your baby becomes overstimulated, consider reducing the number of strokes or the length of time of your massage.

Maintain physical contact.
Keep one or both hands on your baby to maintain consistent sensory input.

Use your voice to soothe and help your child relax.
Talk to your baby in a rhythmic voice describing the massage and the body parts. You may want to sing, hum, or coo during the massage. You may want to play soft music in the background.

Keep baby warm.
Wrap body parts that have been massaged in a blanket or towel to keep your baby warm and comfortable.

Bring the massage to a close by wrapping the blanket or towel around your baby and gently rocking him or her back and forth for a few minutes.

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