One thing is for sure, I can’t stop holding, cuddling and kissing my newborn! My sweet girl will be three months this week and she is all giggles and smiles. I make sure to spend quality time with her, especially when M is busy playing and there is less chance of him being jealous. After her morning bath time is especially my favorite because she is warm, smells divine and it’s the perfect time to give her a massage!
When M was born, my doctor suggested I take him to a baby massage class. I just stared at her blankly — I didn’t know there were classes for that. However, I did end up going and aside from learning the benefits of massaging your baby I also made some great mama friends!
Massaging your baby is great way to bond, it soothes them and the fact is they need and love to be caressed. Most of it is instinctual, so just go with the flow! I use Aveeno Baby Lotion or my own homemade lotion but in the classes we also used olive oil (a bit too messy for me!)
Here are five ways to start massaging your baby:
1. Legs And Feet — Make sure you are in a comfortable position, undress baby and lay baby on the bed or on playmat on a towel or blanket. Lather lotion on your hands to warm up (some even use olive oil, but too messy for me) and then begin with the feet and legs and gently squeezing calves and thighs while gliding your hands up and down in twisting motions.
2. Tummy — Stroke baby’s tummy in a clockwise motion. Draw the letter I on his left side by gliding your fingers from just below the ribs down to hips. Form an upside-down L by stroking your fingers from right to left side below the ribs and down to left hip. Create an upside-down U by starting at the right hip, moving your fingers up the right side, crossing them underneath the rib cage, and then moving down to left hip.
3. Hand and Arms — Hold your baby’s wrist in one hand. Softly wrap your other one around the top of her arm, and glide it from the shoulder to wrist. Reverse the stroke, and repeat it several times. Press your thumbs one at a time up the palm. Then gently roll each finger. Hold the wrist and stroke from the wrist up to her shoulder. Change hands and glide along the inside of arm from wrist to shoulder. Switch to the opposite arm.
4. Face And Head — With the tips of your fingers; make small circles on the cheeks. Place an index finger at the inside corner of each eye. Gently glide across upper cheeks. Start above the middle of lip and stroke outward several times, following the lip line. Start above the chin and do the same thing. Then, using your fingertips, stroke the front, top, and back of each ear. My personal favorite — Little L just melts into sleep when I do this!
5. Back — Turn your baby onto their tummy. Draw small circles with your fingers down one side of her back to her buttocks and back up the other side. Avoid stroking her spine. Next, lay both hands on her upper back, thumbs meeting. Glide them back and forth as you stroke from shoulders down to her bottom and then back up.
Five benefits of massage for YOU and baby:
1. Helps digestion and relieves gas. When Little L is really fussy and won’t settle, especially after a feed, I will massage her tummy which usually leads to poopy diapers and passing gas!
2. Helps baby sleep longer. Again, who doesn’t want this? They are more relaxed and after a cuddle and massage they are able to rest better.
3. Massaging creates a special bond and attachment that goes well beyond the baby years! My four year old still comes to me, cuddles up and asks “mami quiero un masaje” / “mami, I want a massage.” How can I say no?!
4. Better skin! Naturally with all that lotion, baby’s skin will be smoother, moisturized and less dry.
5. Helps your baby feel loved and you learn to how understand and respond to their cues. It’s gratifying to be able to soothe your baby with your touch. I love when Little L lets out those baby sighs of relief when I am massaging her limbs. So cute!
Don’t get too hung up on the exact techniques and go with what feels best for you and baby. I noticed that Little L loves to have her feet and forehead rubbed — she reacts more than when I do other areas. I absolutely LOVE the time we spend together and she has given me some of the best smiley faces yet! These are the special moments that live in our memories forever, and I cherish them dearly.