Tips and techniques on how to massage your new baby.
By Amy Zintl
Daily infant massage is a great way to bond with baby. What's more, researchers are finding that massage may promote better sleeping, relieve colic, and perhaps even enhance an infant's immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development. Here are some tips and techniques to help you along.
Use a blanket or towel, and massage oil in a non-breakable container. (Test the oil on a small spot of your baby's skin and wait a day to be sure no irritation appears.) Start when your baby is in a quiet yet alert state -- not immediately after a feeding or when she's sleepy. Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together, forming a diamond shape with your legs. Drape the blanket over your feet and between your knee.
Undress your baby down to her diaper and place her on the blanket, cradling her head on your feet. Start with a gentle "hello" stroke from baby's head to her toes. If baby stiffens, cries, or becomes irritable, move to another body part or simply end the massage for the day. If she responds well, start gently massaging her body section by section.
1. Hold your hand so your pinky's edge can move like a paddle across your baby's belly. Starting at the base of the rib cage, stroke down with one hand, then the other, in a paddle-wheel-like motion.
2. Massage her abdomen with your fingertips in a circular, clockwise motion.
3. Do the "I Love U" stroke: Trace the letter I down your baby's left side. Then trace an inverted L, stroking across the belly along the base of her ribs from her right side to her left and down. Trace an inverted U, stroking from low on the baby's right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.
4. Walk your fingers around her navel, clockwise.
5. Hold knees and feet together and gently press knees up toward her abdomen. Rotate baby's hips around a few times to the right. (This often helps expel gas.)
6. Place hand on tummy horizontally and rock your hand from side to side a few times. Note: Avoid massaging tummy if the cord hasn't completely healed.
Head and Face
1. Cradling your baby's head in both hands, massage the scalp with your fingertips, as if you're shampooing. (Avoid the fontanel, the soft spot on top of baby's head.)
2. Massage her ears between your thumb and index finger.
3. Trace a heart shape on your baby's face, bringing your hands together at the chin.
4. Place your thumbs between your baby's eyebrows, and stroke out.
5. Again with your thumbs, stroke gently out over baby's closed eyelids.
6. Stroke from the bridge of the nose out over the cheeks.
7. Using your fingertips, massage the jaw in small circles.
1. Place both hands on your baby's chest and stroke outward from her sternum to her shoulders.
2. Beginning at her sternum, trace a heart shape bringing both hands up to her shoulders, then down and back together.
3. In a crisscross pattern, stroke diagonally from one side of your baby's hip, up and over the opposite shoulder, and back down to her hip.
to be continued
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