Infant Massage Tips
  • Advanced Vitality

Infant Massage - Tips to Help You and Your Baby Thrive

Updated: May 7


Ladie Ramos, RMT

Registered Massage Therapist

Certified Infant Massage Therapy Instructor

Certified Infant and Pediatric Massage Therapist



Ladie Ramos has been a Massage Therapist at Advanced Vitality for over five years. In this time, she completed her certifications in prenatal massage, pediatric massage, special populations massage, and continues to further her knowledge, expertise and experiential learning. She is committed to giving back, and is currently on faculty teaching the next generation of registered massage therapists.

INFANT MASSAGE


Research has shown that babies who receive a 15-minute massage a day, have improved weight gain, increase in food intake due to better GI functioning, decreased gastric retention and abdominal pain, and a better sucking reflex.


Including the above, there are several others benefits of Infant Massage, such as


  • Promote relaxation and reduce constipation and gas

  • May help with weight gain by improving circulatory and digestive movements, flexibility, muscle tone and symptoms of colic

  • Pain relief from teething, congestion, growing pains and muscular tension

  • Improvements in the use of all senses, verbal and non-verbal communication

  • May help infants reach developmental milestones

  • Improved sleep patterns and overall health


Infant massage can also promote bonding and attachment between the infant and caregiver as they develop trust and respect.

WHEN SHOULD I MASSAGE MY BABY?


Traditional massage techniques can start when your baby is around 4 weeks old. You ideally want to wait at least 30-minutes after feeding. Many parents/caregivers incorporate infant massage into a nightly bedtime routine for those who are slightly older.


How do I know that my baby wants a massage?

Babies are just like adults, and they can give you cues. These are called engagement and disengagement cues.


Engagement Cues: A baby who is in the mood to play, learn or feed will show the following cues:


  • Babbling and talking

  • Looking at you

  • Smiling, pursing lips, raising eyebrows

  • Reaching for hands

  • Raises head

  • Snuggles

  • Grasping for things


Disengagement Cues: When a baby needs a break, they will use these cues to tell you that they are tired, gassy or starting to get overwhelmed:


  • Cry and fuss

  • Glassy eyes

  • Loss of eye contact

  • Yawning, sneezing, hiccups

  • Falling asleep

  • Pulling away, squirming or kicking

  • Frowning

  • Freezing

WHAT TYPE OF LOTION/OIL SHOULD I USE?


Using an oil or lotion for infant massage is not necessary. If using an oil or lotion, it is best to use the following:


  • Odorless

  • Edible (such as fruit and vegetable oils)

  • Cold pressed oils


Remember to do a five-minute patch test on a small area first!

HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN INFANT MASSAGE SESSION


You want to create a calm atmosphere (i.e., lights, sounds and temperature). Make sure you as a parent/caregiver are in a calm state (your baby can sense your energy).


If possible, complete the massage on the floor using baby’s favourite blanket for safety. Bring some of baby’s favourite toys close by for engagement and prepare yourself (i.e., breath – calm and relax yourself before beginning).

HOW TO PERFORM INFANT MASSAGE


First, you want to warm your hands and engage baby with sounds. If using oil/lotion, apply to hands and rub together creating a “swishing” sound. Engage your baby by wiggling your hands and making sounds so your baby engages. Next, ask baby “are you ready for your massage?”


Important Tips:


  • Keep eye contact with your baby while preforming the massage

  • Touch and pressure should be gentle (i.e., as if you are picking tomatoes at the grocery store)

  • Strokes should be rhythmic (uninterrupted)


INFANT MASSAGE TECHNIQUES


Repeat each technique three times on each side of body.


The Legs:


We start with the legs as they are the least sensitive area of the body and therefore, we will not overstimulate. While completing the massage, watch for sensitivity.


Loving Touches

  • Apply nurturing touch to the legs with gentle pressure and holds


Hugs & Glides

  • Start at the top of the thigh, do two hugs on the thigh and gently glide down to the rest of the leg, hand should be in a c-shape

  • Avoid pressure on the knee


Thumb Strokes

  • Use your thumb on the bottom of the foot and stroke from heel to the bottom of each toe

  • Repeat on top of foot from the toe toward the ankle

  • Using fingers, gently hug each toe


Ankle Rotations

  • Support the ankle and gently move the ankle in a circular motion one direction, and then switch to the other direction


Strokes

  • Gently stroke down from the hips to the toes



The Arms:


Loving Touches

  • Apply nurturing touch to the shoulders with gentle pressure and holds


Hugs and Glides

  • Take the arm, with your hand in a c-shape and apply gentle glides from the arm to the wrist

  • Avoid pressure on the elbow


Wrist Rotations

  • Take the hand and gently rotate the wrist in a circular motion one direction, and then switch to the other direction


Palm Circles

  • Wait for baby to relax and open their hand

  • Apply thumb kneading as if your drawing circles on the palmar aspect of the hand


Butterfly’s and Pizza’s

  • Gently stroke to the top part of the hand towards the wrist in either a butterfly or pizza pattern


Hugs and Traction

  • Take each finger and gently hug and pull

  • Do not do this technique if your baby has a history of epilepsy/seizure disorder


Strokes

  • Stroke down from the arms, all the way to the finders



The Chest:

Note: This is good for congestion and coughs


Hearts

  • Place both hands together over the sternal region

  • Draw a heart on the chest to the belly button - open out your hands slowly, stroke outward and lightly flatten the palms over the chest


Water Wheel

  • Place on hand flat across the top of the chest

  • Stroke it gently down to their thighs (like a water wheel)

  • Repeat motion alternating hands



The Abdomen

Note: This is good for constipation


  • Place your hands on baby’s abdomen

  • Gently stroke abdomen in a clockwise motion, starting on the left side, to remove any blockage in the intestine


I Love You

  • Start the stroke on baby’s left side of abdomen to clear rectum, repeat 3x

  • Then go across the top of the abdomen (right to left) and finish with a down stroke “L”

  • Then, finish with an upside down “U”


Strokes

  • Finish the abdominal massage with gentle strokes from the chest to the ankle



The Back

Note: Use any position that is comfortable (i.e., holding baby against your own chest or lap)


Loving Touches

  • Apply nurturing touch to the baby’s back

  • With alternating hands, gently stroke/sweep down from shoulders to the buttock region

  • With alternating hands (or one hand), glide back and forth across the baby’s back, from the upper back all the way down to lower region – do it slow and gentle!

  • Avoid putting pressure on the baby’s spine


Sun and Moon

  • Gently use finger pads to draw circles up and down baby’s back

  • With fingers spread apart, gently stroke down the baby’s back

  • Glide down from the shoulder all the way to the legs


OTHER TECHNIQUES AND EXERCISES


  • Leg Bicycles

  • Hold knees to tummy

  • With knees bent, circle knees to tummy

  • Shake it out

  • Clear the sinus -static pressure on the sinus region for congestion

  • Cheek circles

  • Intraoral – gum massages, teething

HELPFUL TIPS


  • Know some baby rhymes to sing while doing the massage

  • Make it fun and playful

  • Create or incorporate stories

  • Use toys to promote movement

Check Out the Full Workshop Video

CLICK HERE!


If you would like to find out more information or book an appointment, contact us!

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