by Carl Parnham RMT
Infant massage is a simple, healthy and therapeutic way of bonding. After engaging baby all day, feeding, changing diapers, just holding, and getting things done, you’d think that mom (or dad if you are the primary caregiver) would not need to be doing infant massage to bond! But this is often an oversight, and a missed opportunity to intentionally create some very high quality time together. Step away from the middle of getting other stuff done or watching the Olympics or thinking other thoughts, and intentionally connect with your little one. And as for dad, it’s a great way for him to bond with baby, since he may not have as much connection time as mom.
So there is a trick to performing infant massage….. First of all, get baby fully undressed (that’s not the trick). Many babies don’t get much naked time except for being in the bath. You need to have the room warm enough so baby doesn’t chill, but since you will be warming baby with massage, normal room temperature should be fine. Now here’s the trick: most babies tend to want to move around – be it crawling or just rolling over, or finding their feet. In massage, you have to be versatile and adapt and be ready for anything. But being parents in training, I’m sure you are aware of this already! Work on baby’s front side and then baby wants to flip over! So let baby do so and then start working on the back. Look into your babies eyes and talk; ask her or him if it feels good – baby will tell you! Many other things can happen spontaneously, such as some boys’ tendency to spout a lovely yellow arch. Simply dodge, clean and start again! And bowels tend to move when baby is relaxed, so it becomes a completely normal part of a massage routine. Clean and start again.
On that note we should talk about the benefits, when and what is indicated and contraindicated. Constipation and colic can decrease with regular massages. You can increase circulation, drain lymphatic system and decrease tension all throughout baby’s body to promote sleep and proper digestion.
And the golden rule for baby massage, is that when baby doesn’t want a massage, don’t force it. Baby will let you know when it’s time.