Previously, we listed the steps to follow when massaging your baby, this is a more detailed guide.
- Seek your baby’s permission
Gently rub some oil on your baby’s tummy and behind the ears to see if they are interested. If the baby resists or cries, then they are probably not ready for a massage yet. Keep in mind that, initially, your baby may seem uncomfortable with the massage as it is a new experience. But as they get used to it, resistance is less likely, and the baby may start to enjoy it.
- Massaging the legs
Start with the baby’s feet. Rub some drops of oil on your palms and begin massaging the baby’s soles and feet. 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. You can also massage both 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 toward the heart from foot to thigh.
- Moving to the arms
After the legs have been massaged, the arms should be massaged. 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 the baby’s hand around and now gently massage the back of the hand with straight strokes towards the wrist. Then, gently massage the wrists in a circular motion, like putting on bangles.
- 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 the shape of the heart.
- Tummy massage
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.
- The back
The last step is to turn your baby around and massage the back. Place your baby outstretched on the tummy with the 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 the 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.
Note that baby massage should be done from at least 30days after birth because their bones are still soft and if done wrongly, you could disfigure the baby’s body. Also, the head of a baby should not be massaged as this can damage the baby’s brain.