Massage Time with Your Toddler

So, I already know the first thing you’re thinking, “When will I find time to massage my child?” And, I will tell you that you need to find the time. Massage not only holds lifelong benefits for your child, but also for you. Babies and children who receive massage score higher on intelligence tests and are healthier in many ways as compared to other children.

Now, do you have to find an hour everyday to massage your child? No! You have probably felt the relaxation associated with even just a ten minute shoulder rub, imagine sharing this with your little one too.

Okay, so how do you get started? First, don’t worry if you missed the ever popular Baby Massage period. It doesn’t matter. You can start massaging your child at anytime, and the great thing, it’s easy to do.

You might be saying, “My child isn’t going to stay still for a massage.” As children grow and become more active, you can easily keep up with their busy bodies and adapt the massage to continue with this nurturing touch.

Here are some easy steps so you can start using massage with your child right now:

Getting Ready:

* Relax! Take some deep breathes, turn off your cell phone and take your time. Be calm and flexible.

* Allow baby to move to different positions if she chooses to. You can massage whatever part of the body is in front of you, even if your little one tries to roll over, sit up or stand.

* Now before your begin, speak in a soft, soothing voice and smile at her. This will be helpful in stimulating her senses and overall make her feel more comfortable. Permission is important. Always ask your child if they would like to receive a massage by making eye contact and verbally asking out loud, “Is it okay if I give you a massage?” Remember, don’t take it personally if your child doesn’t want to receive a massage. Respect their independence, right to say no to unwanted touch and ability to make choices.

* Keep baby warm and cover areas you will not be massaging. You can massage over clothing (without oil), or by placing your hands directly on your baby’s skin. If you want to massage directly on the skin, I would recommend you use a little oil. The warmth of the skin to skin contact can be very helpful for relaxation, stimulation and constipation.

* Warm your hands by rubbing them together. This will help your baby to recognize this cue as “massage time”.

Massage Time:

If your little one is laying down facing you,

* Start by placing your warmed hands around the top of baby’s leg at the hip
* Cupping her leg, gently stroke downward towards her foot
* Do not put any pressure on baby’s knee or ankle
* Then stroke the bottom of her foot and gently hug each little toe
* Next kiss her feet, babies love this!
* Repeat these strokes on the opposite leg.

The tummy should not be massaged right after eating. If baby has not recently eaten (within 30 minutes), go ahead and introduce your touch to her belly.

* Place your hands at her belly button and move them in a clockwise motion
* This movement can help ease the pains associated with gas, constipation and has been known to ease colic

Next, go ahead and move on to her arms.

* Repeat the same soothing strokes that we used on the legs
* While doing massage, continue to make eye contact and check in with her. If you enjoy singing or telling stories, feel free. Whatever makes you both feel relaxed is perfect!

Continue massage only as long as you and baby are enjoying it. Continue massaging if she is still enjoying it. If not, feel free to let her be the boss. Babies are really good at letting us know when they’ve had enough.

Now, move on to her back.

* Stroke her back, starting at the shoulders, over bum and down the legs, showing extra care not to put any pressure on her spine
* Continue stroking her back a few times
* End with a hug and kiss!

Copyright (c) 2007 Liddle KidzĀ™ Infant and Children’s Pediatric Massage