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Practice Massage to Soothe Your Baby

by Tania Cowling | May 19th, 2014 | Care, Infants/Toddlers

baby foot adult handJust like a massage gives you relaxation, this same technique helps babies feel calm, happy, and even lulls them to a restful sleep. A few simple strokes and bonding help an infant produce fewer stress hormones and even boost their immune system. So, take a few minutes in your daily routine to include massage. This plan is geared for healthy babies from over two weeks of age to 18 months. If your baby is a preemie or has a medical problem, it is best to check with your pediatrician before practicing the art of massage on your infant.

Dr. Tiffany Field developed fabulous programs at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. I used her techniques on my children and now with my grandchildren. It’s a simple program and produces wonderful bonding. Just a little bit of stroking places your baby in a world of bliss.

Before you begin, make sure you practice these important measures.

  • Always massage your baby on a flat surface, such as the changing table, the baby’s crib or your bed.
  • Make sure your hands are clean. Take off  jewelry, especially rings.
  • Use a small amount of organic baby oil or olive oil on your hands to reduce friction.
  • Be firm, but gentle with your strokes. If you massage too lightly it is more of a tickle, a firmer touch reaches the nerve receptors for calming the baby.
  • Always follow your baby’s cues. If your touch is soothing he/she will enjoy the stroking. If your baby cries or tenses it may be time to stop.
  • Do each step about 30 to 60 seconds, unless otherwise indicated.

Here is a brief summary of Dr. Field’s techniques.

Step 1 – With the baby on his/her tummy, use your fingertips to slowly stroke the forehead and run your fingers down the back of the head to the nape of the neck.

Step 2 – Slowly stroke to each shoulder with one hand to the right and then to the left.

Step 3 – With both hands, stroke from the nape of the neck down both sides of the baby’s back. Do not touch the spine.

Step 4 – Using both hands, slowly massage down both legs at the same time from the buttocks down to the feet. Repeat the motion going back upwards.

Step 5- Slowly stroke from the back down each arm at the same time — from the shoulders down to the hands and then back up again.

Step 6 – Turn your baby onto his/her back. Exercise each arm gently bending each arm at the elbow and then straighten it. Do this on both arms about six times each.

Step 7 – Take each leg and bend it at the knee and then straighten it. Do each leg motion about six times. Last, take each leg in your hands and gently do a bicycle motion.

You should now have a happy and relaxed baby ready to be lulled to a restful sleep. Just think, mom may become just as relaxed and want a nap too!

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