Make massage a regular part of your baby’s schedule. Plan the massage for around the same time every day, such as after a bath, before going to bed, first thing in the morning or when you arrive home from work. These tips, and more, can be found in the illustrated Parent’s Guide to Infant Massage that a CEIM gives participants during a course.
ALWAYS BEGIN every session with a pre-massage ritual.
- Plan the massage for around the same time every day, such as after a bath, before going to bed, first thing in the morning or when you arrive home from work.
- Start the session in the same location to establish familiarity and a feeling of safety.
- ALWAYS speak in a calm warm voice. An over-excited baby cannot enjoy a massage.
- ALWAYS ask for permission. Babies are incredible learning systems and it only takes a few repetitions of an event for your baby to understand what you are offering.
- Look for your baby’s response to that question and be respectful of the answer. Keep in mind that an Infant Massage session is intended for your baby’s pleasure before anything else.
- Make sure the room you are in is warm enough so your baby will be comfortable unclothed. A very young baby should be kept covered except for the part of the body that is being massaged.
- Place your baby in a position that is comfortable for both of you. The best position is supine, with the baby’s head propped on a pillow or wedge in front of you. That way, you can read your baby’s expressions during the massage.
- Use baby oil or lotion to help your hands and fingers slide over your your baby’s skin but very very cautious that the oil or lotion is acceptable for baby’s delicate skin. Adult oils and creams may contain many unlabeled ingredients that can harm your baby’s health.
- Learn to read your baby’s non-verbal cues. Scrunched up positions, looking away, sounds of discomfort, squirming and facial expressions that are not happy, are possible negative reactions that suggest a massage should be stopped or made much less intense.
- Remember that most babies find downward strokes to be calming and upward strokes to be stimulating. On newborns, downward strokes work best.
- Make sure your strokes are firm enough to not tickle. Many babies find tickling unpleasant.
- When a session is finished, tell that to the baby and prepare for the next step. “OK, all done. Woud you like a bath? (or a nap or a cuddle . . . something to make it clear that the massage is finished for now.)
- Newborn massage should be limited to the legs, feet, arms and hands and should last no more than three to five minutes.
- Once your baby is a month old, you can add massages for the stomach and chest and increase the time to ten minutes.
- After two months, you can begin massaging the back and head and the entire massage can last as long as 15 minutes.