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Thread: Baby Massage

  1. #1
    paradise lost Guest

    Default Baby Massage

    Ok, so, i said i'd do this for some mums who were interested. I have a few books on baby massage as a friend of mine is a translator (German-English) and often sends me a copy of what she's translated if she can.

    First a little bit about WHY people massage.

    All mammals lick their young. This tactile stimulation has been seen to revive non-breathing infants and has been noted to continue long beyond the first day in young which seem to be failing to thrive well. Even animals such as the apes who have hands to caress do this. Some mums want to do it and many many many of us kiss and smell our newborns. SOme people in Tibet do still lick their young when there is no warm water to wash them. Many mammals dilate quickly and most deliver from full dilation to birth in a short time (2-15 minutes) despite the fact that in most cases they do not have a greater pelvic outlet/baby size ratio. Even apes do not push so long as humans. It is thought by some that the long period of pushing serves to stimulate human babies in the way the licking does for other young mammals. There have been many studies which show caesarean babies can have problems such as disorganised breathing or disinterest in eating and it is known that experiencing the sensations and hormones of labour does much to stimulate our young. This first massage of our babies by our bodies stimulates them into life and helps them arrive as vigorous as possible.

    Massage is skin-to-skin contact and more. It directly influences the blood supply and stimulates circulation and the major organs, it stimulates and regulates breathing, it eases stomach pains and colic, it aids sleep and, perhaps most magically of all, it stimulates (as all loving touch in people of all ages does) the immune system! Massage harmonizes the body and brings peaceful function to the systems and senses.

    In India many babies are swaddled most of the time, tied to their mothers backs while they work in the fields, but every few hours the baby is taken down, breastfed and then rythmically sung to and massaged. Despite spending much of their days wrapped in this way Indian infants crawl and walk as soon as any other babies, massage stimulates as much as activity can.

    So which babies will benefit most? Well, ALL babies will benefit from massage, tactile touch is the most powerful loving tool in the world. From the skin to skin on our mothers breasts through hugs and kisses over cut knees to the sexual playful touch with our life-partners, tactile touch plays a significant role in our happiness and our well-being. Laughter is not the best medicine. Hugs are!

    Some babies will especially benefit (and remember, the toucher gets as much benefit as the touchee in most cases, so this is another case where happy baby=happy mummy) from massage. Babies born by c-section, especially those who did not experience labour, premature babies (it has been seen how important skin-to-skin is for premmies), babies with colic, babies who are often ill with colds or coughs, babies who do not thrive well, babies who have trouble sleeping, babies who could not be breastfed (this is wonderful for the mum too as it can replace the closeness of BFing and really help with bonding, especially after difficult and/or traumatic births), adopted babies, hyperactive kids and hypoactive (inactive) kids, and children of all ages with disabilities all benefit immensely from massage. SOme mums will benefit more too - mums who had very hard births, who are having troubles with bonding and who are suffering with PND may benefit greatly from massage, and while it isn't a cure-all, it's a very good start in developing the rapport with your child you are craving.

    There are times when a baby should NOT be massaged. If a baby has a high temperature, an acute infection, swollen lymph glands, internal bleeding or has an as-yet undiagnosed serious illness (i.e. if baby is obviously ill enough to need a doctor) you shouldn't massage. Massage helps to drain the lymphatic system and stimulates blood flow and this can interfere with the way the body deals with initial infection. There are some specifically safe techniques, but it's better to consult a doctor and then take the baby to a therapeutic masseus/physio to learn those.

    Massage is also important in teaching children about their bodies and the difference between loving, benign and malign touch. A child massaged from babyhood will know right away from the feel of the touch when a relative loves them, when a doctor means no harm and when an abuser is doing wrong to them. They know the difference from the many hours of loving touch from their folks. In addition they are "in touch" with their body and its sensations and are often less self-conscious than other kids as they have been shown from a very young age that their body is loveable and beautiful and perfect, whatever shape or size it is.

    Right, so that's WHY, i'll do another post for HOW, since this is getting long...

    Last edited by paradise lost; January 23rd, 2008 at 12:33 AM. Reason: remembered a few bits!

  2. #2
    paradise lost Guest


    So, HOW do we massage? A lot of it comes instinctively after an initial period of practice and getting to know how it feels, and i felt better about developing my own massages once i'd tried a few from the books. I'll give a few general techniques and a colic one (really useful!).

    Before you begin - it's best to have the massages as part of an everyday routine. You might want to begin massaging a normal healthy baby after bathtime or before their longest sleep as it helps you both relax. A baby you want to help in some way (to feed better or to sleep better overall or to treat colic) might need more frequent massages. The colic one especially is good if done two or even 3 times a day, as this helps the gut calm down and stay calm, iykwim. It's good also to try to have the massage when you're both feeling good the first few times. A baby who is cold or tired or hungry while massages will start to relate one to the other, so make sure their physical demands are quietened so you can both enjoy the massage time together. To begin with 5 minutes is usually enough and newborns will sometimes even fall asleep while you're doing it. As the baby grows and you learn what he/she likes you can extend this to as long as you want. I never made it past 20 minutes with DD, but i know one mum who massages her disabled toddler for an hour every morning and night. Find what fits you.

    For the colicky baby there may not BE a time when they are peaceful at first and that is ok, the massage itself should help ease the pain as you go, so it's of course ok to begin when they are in pain.

    You will need:
    A baby
    A warm room (really lovely and warm, cold makes muscles harder and hard muscles don't like to be massaged)
    Oil - olive oil is perfect and is cheap. For babies who get too greasy with olive oil there are alternatives like sweet almond oil, but always think about allergies and try a tiny bit first time to make sure there's no reaction.
    A towel, preferably warmed on the radiator, to lie baby on
    Warm hands (put them in hot water if need be - very warm hands can be like magic for colicky bubs)
    Low lighting, soft music if you like - think about "romantic" atmospheres and tweak it for peaceful relaxation-time.

    Even if the baby is brand new, tell him or her exactly what you're going to do, and are doing in a slow litling voice. You will know once the massage gets going if silence is ok. Some babies look really suprised at the touch - it's better to tell them what's happening, some babies start to drift off into a happy daze, it's best to let them drift. Put some oil on your hands and rub them together to get them warm, then put the oil all over the baby from neck to toes. DOn't put too much on, you want enough so that your hands glide but do not slip, massage is a smooth sensuous movement, nothing sudden. Too little oil is better than too much, you can always add later on.

    If the baby repeatedly puts their hands out to block you or kicks you away as you start (i've seen even tiny babies do this) consider if they are trying to tell you they don't want a massage and if so why? Are the in a draught, hungry, is there a light shining in their eyes, etc. A quick cuddle and then another go often does the trick.

    General techniques:
    -slow downward strokes tend to sooth
    -fast upward strokes tend to stimulate
    -continuous contact is important, keep your touch on the baby somewhere at all times, a baby who is drifting away under your touch can feel suddenly cut loose if your touch vanishes - keep your oil close enough that you can reach it without having to break contact.
    -pressure should be even and gentle. Don't tickle, but don't press or manipulate either. In babies and children you are massaging the skin, not the muscles.
    -massage from top to bottom. In baby massage you're trying to release tension, calm and soothe them. Babies can see, hear and think but not talk and thus to some extent they are "trapped" in their heads. The head is the first thing they gain control over the movement of and by moving the tension out through their feet you are awakening them to their bodies from the parts they already control (eyes, mouth, neck) to those which seem to roam free and can even seem to hit the baby sometimes (arms, legs, feet). This gives a new feeling of "wholeness" and unity, or that's the idea anyway.

    I'll do another post of specific massages (this is longer than i thought it'd be!) but before i do, remember that if you have been massaging and have found techniques that your baby clearly likes, then you should stick with them and arent' doing anything "wrong" - the books and the people who wrote them don't know your kid and the whole point of initial infant massage is to open a dialogue btween parent and baby, and if you already have one, don't swtich languages when it's working great already!


  3. #3
    paradise lost Guest


    Ok, so you have your warm room and your lightly oiled baby, now to begin.

    Specific massage routines:

    Leboyer massage (yes, THAT Leboyer)

    1. Begin with the chest, put both palms flat on the chest, moulding your hand to the shape of the baby (so your whole hand is in even contact with the baby as it moves) and give the baby a minute to get used to this. Sometimes they will breath deeper or sigh or stretch - this is all new to them, so let them experience the touch and get used to it. Then stroke outwards from the breastbone to the sides of the ribcage, lift the hands back to the breastbone and repeat, (if this is the first time you're doing it or the baby is very tiny still, move one hand at a time, so you're always touching the baby). Once you have done this a while stroke from the armpits to the hips for a while, both together, downwards strokes only, and moving one hand at a time if need be.
    2. Now do some diagonal strokes. Hold the left thigh with your right hand. Stroke with your left hand from the left hip to the right shoulder and then down to the right hip. Now swap sides, holding the right thigh and stroking with your right hand right hip-left shoulder-left hip. Do each stroke 3 times.
    3. Now the arms. Lie baby on their side, hold the wrist in your "outer" hand (the hand on the same side as the baby's back as they lie on their side in front of you) and straighten the arm a little. Using the "inner hand" cup around the shoulder and glide the hand down the arm, with even pressure. Don't pull on the shoulder joint, use counter-pressure with the hand holding the wrist so you can squeeze from the shoulder to the wrist without pulling. Think about a milking movement. Do the stroke 3 times, then swap the holding hand and the massaging hand and repeat 3 times. Then turn the baby over onto their other side and repeat for the other arm. Lie the baby on its back again and massage the palms and fingers, stroking to the fingertips.
    4. The abdomen. Oil the stomach and not whether it is full or empty, hard of soft. A hard belly cannot tolerate pressure so be very gentle, sometimes a colicky baby will need many massages before they have a softer belly. Using alternate hands stroke from the pit of the belly (just above the belly-button) to the pubic bone. As usual, 3 times. With your right hand stroke from the bottom of the right side of the ribcage down across to the genitals and over them. Neither make a fuss about the genitals nor leave them out as if they are untouchable or don't exist. Repeat with the left hand on the left side, alternate between sides, repeating 2-3 times. Some baby boys might get an erection at this - it's NOT sexual touch or a sexual response to touch, it's just that he's relaxed and you're moving the blood flow down towards that area with your strokes. You might regard it as a blush - normal, healthy, unremarkable. How you react to the baby's body is important as from this they gain their own opinions of it, so monitor your own reactions too. Now circle the abdomen, ALWAYS clockwise (that's the direction the colon moves food in) starting at the navel and slowly cirling outwards in a slow spiral.
    5. THe legs. Basically the same as the arms but they stay on their back. One hand holds the ankle and keeps the leg reasonably straight and the other "milks" the tension out of it towards the foot. To do the foot, hold the calf in one hand and the ankle in the other. Squeeze the ankle and slide the squeeze right to the toes - this shows the baby the toes are on the end of the foot is on the end of the leg. Now rub the sole from the heel towards the toes - the baby may fan their toes at this stroke. Now "milk" each little toe.
    6. Now the back. Turn baby onto his tummy and oil his back. Stroke downwards from the shoulders to the buttocks on long smooth strokes. You can let one hand follwo the other to make this a continuous stroke which can be very relaxing for you both. For a bigger baby or a toddler you can use 3 fingers to stroke down the sides of the spine to the sacrum. Don't press too hard. Next put both hands side by side on the back and move one forward and the other back, continuously, it's ok if the skin gets moved around, so long as you have enough oil on there it'll be fine. To finish the back stroke a few times from the forehead, round to the shoulders, down the back, across the buttocks, down the legs, over the feet and beyond. Top to toe as it were.

    Phew! There's a bit more you can do, but that's a good beginning. I'll be back after lunch to do the colic one.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Bec, this is a truly excellent thread - you are beyond legendary!!! Thank you so much for the time you've taken to share this with us, this will be of enormous help.

  5. #5
    paradise lost Guest


    Colic massage

    1. Hot hands. Put your hands in a bowl of very warm water (as hot as you can stand to keep them in for a few minutes, until they're red, but don't scald them!). Then dry them, oil them and gently rub some oil onto baby's tummy. Now rest your hot hand on bubs belly, use both hands if it's a bigger kid with a sore tummy. Concentrate on being very relaxed yourself, breathe slowly and try to communicate calmness through your palms to your baby. Learning to be still and relax is a very important technique (how many of us used it during labour!) and you can teach this with your touch.
    2. Stroke the belly from ribs to pubic bone, with each hand following the other, continuously. Think about scooping a hollow in sand but DON'T use the edge of your hand, try to use the whole palm with slightly more pressure on the last 3rd to pass across the belly. If the baby's holding their belly muscles hard then use a lighter touch. Next flex and hold the legs (either hold both ankles in one hand or hold one leg with your hand and have the other leg passing over your wrist) so their knees are above their hips or even closer to the belly - this helps them relax their stomachs if they are in pain. Repeat the scooping motion with the other hand, the belly should feel a little softer this time.
    3. Hold the baby's knees together and push the thighs gently up against the tummy, holding for about 30 seconds. Straighten the legs but keep them raised a little and relax yourself, communicating your relaxation, then push them back up onto the tummy and hold them (you might get explosive farting/pooping during this, so lay a towel over your legs to avoid getting sprayed).
    4. Imagine a clock-face on baby's belly. Starting at 7 your left hand strokes a full clockwise circle, as it reaches 3 your right hand follows a second semi-circle from 9 to 3, so that each stroke is one full circle and one semi-circle so the top of the circle (where a lot of the gas can get caught up as the organs are most layered there) is done twice.
    6. Push the knees up again and this time press one leg gently into the belly, then release a little and press the other in. Alternate like this for 30 seconds. Again, be aware of explosive movement in the bowel!
    7. Holding the feet, "pedal" the legs slowly in the air, with each thigh coming into contact with the belly alternately.
    8. Rub slow circles, clockwise, with hot hands.
    9. Knees up again, squeezing them in against the tummy and releasing.
    10. Lay your hands still on the tummy again, communicating warm relaxation through your hands. Make sure your body is relaxed, and breath slowly and deeply and rythmically.

    To do the colic routine it's best to slot it into a fuller routine unless your normal massage is done already and baby is in specific colic pain. At the least it's a good idea to do some chest massage, then the colic routine, then some leg massage, so you are moving the tension out of the body. Hips and thighs especially can get tight when a baby is pulling the legs up in pain and it's good to treat that tension at the same time. If you are laying a colicky baby on their tummy to rest (i know it's against SIDS advice, but i'll admit i did it when she was right beside me out of desperation for her and she never had particularly bad colic so i can imagine many other women get to the will-try-anything stage too) you can rub their back - anticlockwise this time, in the direction of the gut always.

    Once you've tried these things you'll probably find that between your and the baby you start to find movements you both enjoy. Follow your instincts. Also use your own illness as an opportunity to learn. Next time you have a headache or bellyache practice your techniques on yourself (of if DP or an older child is ill, likewise - it's amazing how much quicker you can learn how things feel from someone who can TELL you about it!) and see what helps and what doesn't.

    I got a lot of my info and most of my enthusiasm from two books: Infant Massage: A Handbook For Loving Parents by Vimala McClure and Healing Massage For Babies And Toddlers by Julia Woodfield. Both are excellent, hold FAR more than i've shared here and are VERY with the money if you're interested in all this.

    Remember that you cannot do harm with sensuous touch. As long as your intentions are loving and your hands are warm and assured, it will matter very little what you do, you can only find things you both like.

    If you have an older toddler and you haven't massaged yet, you can begin with little "touch ryhmes". Our favourite is Criss cross apple sauce. It goes:

    Criss cross (stroke the back left shoulder to right hip then right shoulder to left hip)
    Apple sauce (repeat)
    Spiders climbing up my spine (climb fingertips up the spine from the sacrum to the neck and tickle the neck)
    Cool breeze (blow on the neck)
    Tight squeeze (hug child to you and squeeze them good)
    Shivers all over ("shiver" with them held in the hug to shake you both a bit)

    You can do this when thy're fully clothed and then again after bathtime so they have a chance to get used to massage touch. I hope i haven't bored anyone to sleep! I've really enjoyed writing this as it's reminded me of so many little things i'd forgotten.

    Last edited by paradise lost; January 23rd, 2008 at 12:43 AM. Reason: adding book titles.

  6. #6


    Awesome Bec - thank you!!!

  7. #7
    paradise lost Guest


    I gave DD a massage tonight. Actually twice today. When she got up from her nap she was really grumpy so i did her legs one at a time while she lay on the sofa next to me, which really cheered her up, and then again at bedtime i did her all over. It's funny, i used to do it alot and then at about 13 months she got really wriggly when i tried so i stopped but tonight she was great and i also found that when she was on her tummy (usually the wriggliest bit as she'd just up and crawl away) giving her a book made a big difference.


  8. #8
    StephV Guest


    this may sound silly but what happens with the oil left on the baby? Do you just wipe them with the towel and dress or do you then need to bath?

  9. #9
    paradise lost Guest


    I used organic almond oil on DD and i just left it on her skin as it is good for it. If you are left with a very oily baby then it's possible you used a bit too much oil, in which case a wee wipe down with a towel won't hurt to make them less slippery


  10. #10

    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    What awesome info!! thank you so much. I've been moisturising DS every feed for eczema, but this has just reminded me that i can make it a much more pleasant and relaxing experience for him!

    Thanks again,

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    Great thread!!
    Damn, I don't have any olive oil, will have to get some. So is any ok? And you just leave it on after, not wash them off??

  12. #12
    StephV Guest


    As long as its olive oil and not vegetable oil etc it should be fine. And the oil just rubs in, so no need to wipe off when done.

    Its also good to use when wiping in the creases of the fat rolls when they get red.

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    LOL thanks Steph, we do have a lot of fat rolls here, lol, little chubba.

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    A Pirate Ship


    I know this is an old thread but thought it was as good as any other to ask a question. I want to add some lavender essential oil to the olive oil that I massage bub with to help him sleep better. But every bottle I have found says 'for adults only' so I was wondering if it is safe to use lavender on babies? The baby massage book I have says it is something you can add to your carrier oil so I am wondering if there is a particular lavender oil that is ok for babies? If lavender isn't ok does anyone else have a suggestion on what I can add to the oil to help with sleep. I am drinking a cup of chamomile tea at around 5pm and hoping that bub gets it in my breast milk a couple of hours later at bed time, could I also put chamomile essential oil in my massage blend instead of lavender?

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    A Pirate Ship


    anyone know about lavender?

  16. #16


    A proper and healthy massage makes your baby relaxed and calmed. Since, our babies learn everyday some new thing such as, they learn to walk, roll over bed, try to get up, etc. They need to adjust a lot of things in surrounding. Thus, a good massage provides them relief from stress.
    Regular massaging will make your baby’s muscles relaxed. They are effective in curing baby problem such as indigestion and constipation.
    Massaging your babyish with oil encourages in deepening several locations of the body. It boosts the apportionment arrangement of the baby, appropriately improves the breeze of blood. As the claret flows appropriately in the circulatory system, all organs are provided with acceptable bulk of claret and nutrients.

    Everyday beating will accomplish the basic stronger and healthier.

    Numerous brands of oils accept emerged in market, but the oils mentioned in acceptable scriptures are actual abundant benign in accepting acceptable health. The oils that able in developing able physique are as follows:

    Coconut oil:

    Coconut oil is extracted from attic fruit, which is even comestible in assertive places. The beating with attic oil is actual abundant accepted in Southeast Asia. It is advised as one of the best oil for your babyish massage. This oil possesses the backdrop of antibacterial and antibacterial that protects our baby’s derma from infection. Use balmy attic oil for massage.

    Mustard oil:

    Highly admired in Northern allotment of Southeast Asia- this oil is awful benign for advantageous advance of hair. Extracted from alacrity seeds, this oil is comestible and acclimated broadly for comestible purpose. Massaging your babyish with oil aswell protects them from derma infections.

    Almond oil:

    Recommended as one of the best oil for massage, almond oil is an accomplished antecedent of Vitamin E. Regular beating with almond oil makes your baby’s derma bendable and shinny. You get a accustomed afterglow due to its affluent nutrients.

    Olive oil:

    This oil is acclimated in college admeasurement in Western countries. Olive oil is contains capital nutrients that removes the asleep beef from skin. Thus, massaging your babyish with olive oil will rejuvenate their skin. It is aswell advantageous for advance and development of bones. The applications of this oil advice in adequate their anatomy and tissues of body.

    Certain tips that will accomplish your babyish beating acceptable and agreeable are as follow:

    You may alpha massaging your babyish afterwards one month. Limit your beating for ten to fifteen minutes.

    Massage your babyish at anchored and appropriate time. Early morning is the best time for their beating and it should be conducted afore their bath. Do not beating on abounding stomach.

    Keep your babyish on some bendable accouterment while massaging, so that they feel blessed and comfortable.

    Start the beating from legs and feet. Go for one leg at one time.

    Consider the temperature of room. Keep the temperature accustomed as, they cannot acclimatize to new temperatures.

    Go in able administration while massaging. Do not just rub oil on their physique as; amiss beating ability amplitude their muscle.

    Do not use any oils that are acclimated by adults. These oils accommodate assertive components, which ability be adverse to their skin.

    Choose able oil that is chargeless from chemicals and bogus aromas. Opt for accustomed comestible oils that are benign for convalescent and stronger bones.

    Stop the acceptance of oil anon is your acquisition any adverse aftereffect of oil on your baby’s skin. Assertive kids are allergic to some aliment products.

    Baby beating is an art that shows amore and adulation appear your baby. It aswell strengthens your band with babyish as, they adore and feel adequate while massaging. Thus, accomplish your adolescent blessed and healthy.
    __________________________________________________ _____________________

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