“When I massaged Hunter he wouldn’t squirm. He became so relaxed that he would often pass gas!” says Hunter’s mom, Jennifer Pinder of Hamilton, Ontario. “Taking infant massage classes was an opportunity for me to get out of the house and to bond with Hunter. I thought the classes would be beneficial to him.” Jennifer was right; infant massage classes have many benefits for both babies and parents.
TAKE A CLASS
Infant massage classes are now available across the country. Ask your health care provider, your prenatal instructor or other moms for tips on where to sign up.
Jennifer says, “Our class was very simple. The certified instructor demonstrated each technique and gave us a handout. We sang songs to our babies while we massaged them to help us remember the techniques.”
Taking a class is the best way to learn proper massaging technique, but getting to a class may not be possible. Janice Battiste, an infant massage instructor with Growing Baby in Toronto, offers these simple techniques to get started at home.
Use your hands to make twisting motions down your infant’s leg from the diaper area down to the ankle. Then, move to the top again and twist back down to the ankle (three times on each leg and each arm). This particular stroke helps to promote relaxation and decrease stress.
Move around the baby’s belly in a clockwise motion, as this is the direction of the colon. The ‘I Love U’ stroke is a great one for gas as well as constipation. With your baby lying flat on her back, take two fingers and come down (on her left side) from the bottom of the chest bone to the diaper area for the ‘I’.
Next, take two fingers and push gently on the upper right, under the chest bone, and stroke straight across to the left and down to the diaper to form an upside down ‘L’.
Finally, start on the bottom right by the diaper area and make a big upside down ‘U’ that ends on the bottom left near the diaper area.
Janice stresses that, “skin-to-skin contact is one of the best bonding experiences a parent and child will have. It helps the baby feel relaxed and comforted, because they love the warmth and closeness.”