Start the massage at your baby's head and work down to her feet. Begin by softly touching her forehead and temples, then her eyebrows and eyelids, and work your way down her face to her nose, ears, cheeks, and around her mouth. With your thumbs, stroke across her upper lip and then across her lower lip and onto her cheeks, as if you were drawing a smile on her face. This helps relax the muscles she uses for sucking.
After you have massaged her face and head, move on to her shoulders and arms. Make a ring around her arm with your thumb and forefinger. Beginning at her armpit, slowly move your hand down her arm. Remember that her elbow is extra-sensitive, so be very gentle as you pass over it. Make gentle turning motions around her wrists. If she is clenching her hand into a fist, gently stroke it to get her to open it. Run your thumb across her palm towards her fingers and lightly roll each one between your own fingers.
Next, gently massage her abdomen which may help stimulate her digestive system. Make hand-over-hand strokes on her stomach, from the bottom of her rib cage to her lower abdomen, using the pads of your fingers. The motion should mimic a small doggie paddle. Next, gently push her knees up toward her stomach and hold them there for ten to fifteen seconds. Straighten them and then bounce them gently. Repeat this move several times.
With both hands together at the center of your baby's chest, push out to the sides, following the rib cage, as if smoothing out the pages of a book. Without lifting your hands from her body, bring them around in a heart-shaped motion to the center and repeat the whole move.
Finish the massage with the legs and feet. Encircle one of her legs with both hands and gently make deep strokes down both sides of her legs toward her ankle. Once you reach her feet, use your thumbs to stroke up the arch to her toes and give each toe a gentle squeeze.
Books and videotapes/DVDs on infant massage are available to help you get started. In addition, many hospitals and private organizations offer baby massage classes. A certified infant massage instructor can give you a hands-on demonstration, answer your questions, and show you how to best massage your baby to help you feel confident and comfortable. Click here to find a certified infant massage instructor in your area from the International Association of Infant Massage.
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