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Methods for Massaging the Baby

Tips on massaging technique

Babies seem really small and fragile, but there is no need to handle them gingerly as if they were made of porcelain. Touch your baby firmly. This will communicate a feeling of strength and confidence to her. All your strokes should be long, slow and rhythmic. The idea is that the experience should be comfortable and stimulating at the same time.

Is there a particular order of massaging the baby’s body

Experts suggest that it helps to first start with the legs and feet.  Then move on to the stomach and torso of the baby, follow it up with massaging the arms and hand, then massage the baby’s face.  Finally turn the baby over (or make the baby sit, if she has learnt to sit) and massage the baby’s back.  You can end this massage routine by gently exercising the baby’s arms and legs.

Tips for massaging arms and legs

Use your thumbs, one after another to push the bottom of the foot from heel to toe. Then squeeze each toe. Pull back gently on the balls of the foot and then press the bottom of the foot with your thumbs. Use your thumbs to push the top of the foot toward the ankle and make small circles around the ankle with your thumbs.

Various Techniques for massaging Legs and Feet

Milking Technique:
 “Milk” the leg with the inside edge of each hand, one following the other. The movement will be from the buttock up the leg to the foot.

“Squeeze and twist” Technique:
This will involve moving your hands together up the leg, turning in opposite directions, and squeezing slightly.

“Swedish milking” Technique:
This technique involves milking the leg from ankle to hip. 

Rolling technique:
Roll the leg between your hands from knee to ankle.

Massaging the Stomach

Massaging the stomach helps relieve gas and constipation. Stroke the baby’s stomach, one hand following the other, as if you were scooping sand toward yourself. Repeat this exercise, grasping the baby’s legs by the ankle with your left hand and massaging the stomach with your right hand. Flatten your thumbs near the baby’s navel and push out to the sides. Walk your fingertips across the baby’s stomach from left to right.

Massaging the Chest

Place both your hands together in the middle of the chest and push out to the sides, following the ribcage. Without lifting the hands from the body, bring them in a heart shaped motion to the centre again.

Massaging Arms and Hands

Adapt the milking techniques used on the legs to the arms. Indian milking would involve beginning at the shoulders and moving outwards towards the hands, whereas Swedish milking would mean the opposite motion. Squeeze and twist the baby’s arms. Roll each finger between your index finger and thumb. Stroke the top of the hand. Massage the wrist, making small circles all around. Shake the arm gently and pat it all over. 

Massaging the Face

Baby’s facial muscles become quite tense from sucking, teething and crying. Place your fingers flat in the middle of her forehead and push out to the sides. Press lightly over the eyes with your thumbs. Push up on the bridge of the nose and then down across the cheeks with your thumbs. Make a smile on the upper and lower lips using your thumbs. Use your fingertips to make small circles around the jaw. Massage the ears, backs of the ears and the chin with your fingertips.

Massaging the Back

Place the baby on your lap or on the floor and turn her over on her tummy. Place both hands at the top of the back at right angles to the spine. Move your hands back and forth in opposite directions, moving up and down the back from the shoulders to the buttocks. Keep your right hand on the buttocks and stroke your left hand down to meet the right at the buttocks. Now hold the legs with your right hand and repeat the motion, swooping your left hand down all the way down to the ankles. Make small circles on the back with your fingertips.

Exercise the limbs with Gentle Movements

Hold the baby’s arms at the wrist, stretch them out to the sides, then cross them on her chest twice. Holding the legs at the ankles cross them at the stomach four times, then stretch them out straight. Push the knees together up into the tummy, then stretch them out straight.

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