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Some Tips on Massaging Your Baby

Do's

  • Make massage a regular part of your baby's schedule. Plan the massage for around the same time every day, such as after a bath, before going to bed, first thing in the morning or when you arrive home from work.
  • Make sure the room you are in is warm enough so your baby will be comfortable unclothed. A very young baby should be kept covered except for the part of the body that is being massaged.
  • Place your baby in a position that is comfortable for both of you. The best position is supine, with the baby's head propped on a pillow or wedge in front of you. That way, you can read your baby's expressions during the massage.
  • Use baby oil or lotion to help your hands and fingers slide over your your baby's skin.
  • Learn to read your baby's non-verbal cues.
  • Remember that most babies find downward strokes to be calming and upward strokes to be stimulating. On newborns, downward strokes work best.
  • Make sure your strokes are firm enough to not tickle. Many babies find tickling unpleasant.
  • Newborn massage should be limited to the legs, feet, arms and hands and should last no more than three to five minutes. Once your baby is a month old, you can add massages for the stomach and chest and increase the time to ten minutes. After two months, you can begin massaging the back and head and the entire massage can last as long as 15 minutes.

Don'ts

  • Don't try to massage your baby when your baby is not already relaxed and alert.
  • Never perform infant massage on a soft surface such as a bed or couch. Use a changing table or the floor so your baby is laying on a firm surface.
  • Never warm oil or lotion in a microwave. Warm it in your hands until it reaches skin temperature.
  • Don't keep massaging an infant that doesn't seem to enjoy it. Signs that your baby isn't ready or that it's time to stop for the day can include: stiffening; holding his or her breath; crankiness or irritability; crying; or looking away from you.
  • If your baby is easily over stimulated, don't talk or sing during the massage.
  • Don't use the deep muscle massage techniques that you would for an adult. In infants, massage is done on the surface, with very little pressure and slow, gentle strokes.
 
 

 

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