So here’s a little secret: I used to be a certified massage therapist. I actually only practiced massage for two and a half years or so, though because though I enjoyed doing it, I I found it was hard to support myself, pay off of student loans and pay rent because I couldn’t physically do 40 hours of massage a week. I ended up taking a part-time nannying job to supplement my income and a few years later, I found an incredible full-time nannying gig that I couldn’t turn down. And I haven’t done much massage since….except of course, trading shoulder rubs with my husband or massaging my babies.
My favorite type of massage to practice is Swedish. The long sweeping strokes from the end of the appendages, up towards the heart, are supposed to help with circulation, promote relaxation and depending on how much pressure is used, to ease muscles stiffness and tension. It’s also great to use on babies.
Touch is something that is highly important between a baby and his parents for bonding. It’s the most powerful gift of love that a parent can give to a newborn whose world has gone from warm, dark and safe to bright, noisy, too cold or too hot. Touch from a parent can be reassuring, comforting and the first way your baby experiences your presence.
When massaging my baby I like to use a mild massage oil. Almond oil, coconut oil or even olive oil will work quite well and will not hurt baby if he gets his hands in his mouth. Or you can buy specially formulated massage oils for use on babies though I never thought there was any need to spend the money on them.
Sitting in a draft free area, I’d undress baby down to his diaper, lay him on a towel across my lap and start gently massaging a small foot and gradually moving up the leg, towards his core with long, even strokes. Then I do the same for the other foot and leg and then move on to the hands and arms, always starting at the end of the appendages and imagining that I was pushing the blood back towards the heart. I’d also massage his stomach, clockwise from top to bottom, which is the direction that helps push what ever is in the bowels (stool or gas), out instead of in. This often seems to soothe a gassy or colicky baby. Another massage trick to relieve gas is to bend the baby’s knees towards his belly and move his legs as if he were riding a bicycle.
Tonight Cooper is having a hard time settling down. After I wrap up this blog I am going to break out some massage oil and give my little a guy a relaxing foot and belly rub. I have a feeling my big guy watching the news in the den will want his feet rubbed too.
Do you massage your baby? What oils or lotions do you use? Did it work to soothe your little one?