Massaging your baby is an opportunity to spend quality time with her while also getting to know and becoming more aware of what is going on with her body on a daily basis. Baby massage can also be a valuable activity for mothers who are bottle-feeding, fathers, and other caregivers who may not have regular skin-to-skin contact with their baby through breast-feeding. Aside from building a stronger bond, massaging your baby can help calm or soothe her if she is in pain or feeling unsettled.
Before starting to massage your baby, center yourself by taking some deep breaths, or simply be still and quiet for a few minutes so that any frustrations or worries can leave your body and will not be transferred to your baby. Make sure your baby is warm, and be sensitive to her feelings and sensations. Use natural oil—sesame is my favorite because of its healing properties. Gently massage her with light, smooth strokes. Listen with your hands as you touch her to get a sense of how she feels and how much pressure is comfortable for her. Her preferences can change from day to day with her condition and age. Too much pressure could be harmful, so observe her reactions; she will let you know what is too much. Relaxing massage uses gentle strokes and is different from acupoint massage, which is focused on a specific point for a therapeutic purpose.
- Pathway: Sensory, Movement
- Participants: Adult +1
- Location: Indoors, a calming location
- Time: 10 to 15 minutes
- Things you will need: Blanket; Natural Oil (sesame recommended)
- Front: Massage your baby’s chest, abdomen, legs, and arms with smooth, even strokes. Light pressure on her stomach or abdomen can be helpful for digestive discomforts.
- Back: Turn your baby on her stomach and stroke down her back, legs, and arms. Use both hands to lightly move down each side of her spine.
- Fingers and toes: My mentor, Hideko Yoshida, told me that the best way to massage babies is to rotate each finger and toe both ways, ten times each—to the right, and then to the left. This can stimulate and awaken your baby’s energy flow. “This Little Piggy” is not just a fun game; it also has a real health benefit.