They say the best way to a baby's heart is through his stomach, and although that's certainly true, if you want the ultimate bonding experience with your baby, you need to learn and practice infant massage techniques.
Infant massage therapy is fairly new to the western world; however, it has actually been an accepted practice for centuries in many countries. Take India for example. In India, mothers not only massage their infants, they also massage all of the members of their family, while passing techniques on to their daughters.
So let's get started on learning a little bit about infant massage techniques. Daily baby massage is a great way to strengthen your bond with your baby. It also promotes better sleep, relief of colic, and it boosts your baby's immune system.
Start with a blanket or towel underneath your baby. Something soft and cuddly is preferred - terry is always nice. Make sure your massage oil is in a plastic container and do a spot test on baby's skin. Wait 24 hours to see if there is any reaction. If there is no reaction, you are ready to start.
When your baby is quiet, yet alert, it is a good time to start your infant massage therapy. Avoid doing your baby massage just after feeding or when your infant is sleepy. Undress your baby down to the diaper, and then place on the blanket. Start with a gentle stroke from head to toe. If your baby cries or stiffens, note the body part and continue on. This will be your clue to avoid that part of the body. Okay, let's move on to some individual infant massage techniques.
Hold your hand in a position that let's the edge of your pinky finger make contact with your baby's tummy. Start at the base of baby's rib cage, then stroke down with your pinky on one hand and alternate pinkies.
Next, walk your fingers around the navel in a clockwise motion. Hold your baby's knees and fit together. Then gently bend and press up into the abdomen a few times. Lastly, place your hand on the tummy and move your hand gently from one side to the next.
The next infant massage technique involves the head and face. You need to cradle your baby's head in both hands massaging the scalp with your fingertips. Avoid the soft spot. Massage behind the ears using your thumbs and index finger. Place your thumbs between your baby's eyebrows, and then gently stroke. Repeat over your baby's closed eyelids, then down the bridge of the nose and over the cheeks.
Of course there are many different infant massage techniques, and we can't possibly cover them all in our article, but we'll cover some basics. The next baby massage is for the arms.
It's a very simple one. You'll hold your baby's wrist with one hand and relax the upper arm by lightly tapping on it. Massage the palm moving your thumb over the heel of the hand down the fingers; then stroke from the shoulder down to the wrist massaging in both directions. Last, massage the wrist by moving your fingers in tiny circles. The steps for the legs are much like those for the arms.
Infant massage therapy works really well on the back. Place your baby on the tummy across your legs horizontally with the blanket underneath. Start the baby massage at the neck with both hands and then move down towards the buttocks making round circular motions with your fingertips. Work your way back to the starting point.
No matter which body part you are massaging, make sure the strokes are gentle but firm. Build the baby massage into your baby's daily routine. Massages can last from 10 minutes up to 30 minutes, depending on baby's mood. Watch his body language, and he will tell you when enough has been reached. Infant massage therapy is a powerful tool, and these infant massage techniques are just the start.