Infant & Toddler Massage: Who, What, When, Where and How

9

I began using infant massage on my oldest daughter, Joce, long before it was the mainstream thing to do. She always had a very finicky stomach and was put on a medicinal regimen at two weeks old for severe gas and constipation. I felt so bad for her, but I was even more nervous about giving her medication at such a young age. With a little mother’s intuition and some Internet research (which was quite a feat, thank you dial-up :)), I went on a mission to find natural ways to relieve her symptoms and help us both feel better.

Who:

Although this article deals with infant massage, anyone (including pets!) can benefit from massage. Everyone loves a good body rub!

Infants LOVE Massage! P
Infants LOVE Massage!

What:

According the know-it-all Internet hub Wikipedia, “Infant massage is a type of complementary and alternative treatment that uses massage therapy for human infants. This therapy has been practiced globally, and has been increasingly used in Western countries as a treatment for infants…”.

From my experience, infant massage helps soothe your child and provides the opportunity to connect with your little one on a more personal level. A simple touch can break down emotional walls, heal hearts and works wonders on physical health (stress, tension, aches and pains).

Below is a general list of benefits of infant massage and the issues it can remedy:

  • Bonding
  • Relaxation
  • Helps baby feel loved
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Facilitates body awareness
  • Boosts immune system
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Improves skin condition & blood circulation
  • Helps digestion
  • Balances respiration
  • Relief for teething pains
  • Helps you learn about your baby
  • Stimulates production of oxytocin

Infant massage is also a great time to introduce essential oils. Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds extracted from botanical materials, such as plants, flowers, seed, etc. These materials have been used for centuries for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Be aware there are certain safety precautions to follow when using essential oils, such as never to use pure, undiluted essential oils on the skin. It is important to research essential oils and different scent combinations to determine what is safe and most beneficial for your child.

When using essential oils always be sure to use a carrier oil or cream when necessary and that it is diluted properly for use on a child. Photo courtesy of vanityfuengirola.com
When using essential oils, always be sure to use a carrier oil or cream when necessary. Also be certain the oils are diluted properly for use on a child.
Photo courtesy of vanityfuengirola.com

When:

There is never a bad time to offer a massage, but it is definitely most beneficial when your child is experiencing symptoms of discomfort or fussiness. I used infant massage for my oldest daughter Joce as a way to soothe her gassy tummy, and it worked! Lily, the baby-baby, got the hands on approach to help soothe her to sleep, which in turn helped my physical and spiritual health.

Have a baby who is cranky or won't sleep? Does your child have growing pains or an upset stomach? Break out the loving mama (or daddy!) hands!
Have a baby who is cranky or won’t sleep? Does your child have growing pains or an upset stomach? Break out the loving mama (or daddy!) hands!

Where:

A quiet spot in the home is nice, but not necessary. If you have multiple children or are in a situation where relief is needed immediately but there are lots of distractions (family visiting from out of town or a play date), try your best to find a quiet corner, lower the lights (if you can) and speak in a soothing tone. If other children are present, find a low key activity to occupy their time, or promise them they will be next in line for a massage if they can keep the noise level down (worked on my kids most the time!).

If you are out in public, a simple shoulder, back or hand massage can work wonders to calm children with social anxiety, sassy attitudes, or general symptoms of not feeling well.

dark room
Try and find a quiet, dark space that evokes a natural feeling of peace.
Photo Courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/

How:

I am not an expert, but I’ve been around the baby soothing block a few times.  Here’s what worked for me:

  • Get in the zone. Be mentally prepared to remain calm so you can effectively calm your child. Chances are if you have a cranky kiddo on hand, you may need to take a few more deep breaths to get into your zen place. Breathe deep and pre-sniff any essential oils you have on hand.
  • Make sure baby is comfy. I always massaged my girls in just a diaper (when able). Lay down a soft towel that you don’t mind getting residue on from any oils or lotions you use. Also, have a soft blanket on hand to cover any exposed parts of baby to make sure they stay warm and cozy.
  • Research and pinpoint problem areas. Find out (or use your mama’s intuition to figure out) what areas need the most attention for illness care and address those areas thoroughly. For general soothing, relaxation and bonding, massage anywhere that makes baby happy! I found Lily’s favorite spot was her thighs and calves. I would do a soothing rub down of her arms, stomach, back and skull base, but I’d finish up with her legs. She would fall asleep right there on the floor. Success!
  • Fine tune your approach. You won’t always end up with a sleeping baby or even a happy baby, but don’t give up. Keep trying new ways to apply a healing, loving touch until you find what works for you both. I found spending time with my daughters, quietly and calmly, sometimes helps me more than it helps them.
A sweet tummy massage for a sweet baby!

It’s never too late to start loving and caring for your child(ren) using massage. If you feel like you and your family could benefit from infant and toddler massage, don’t wait! Start today!

What techniques have you used to help soothe your baby? Do you have experience with infant massage? If so, please share!

Previous article7 Things to “Ditch” when Starting an Exercise Program
Next articleHow Does Your Garden Grow? A Primer for Springtime Planting
Megan decided at a very young age having children wasn’t for her and she never knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, always feeling lost and empty. As a teenager a life altering experience changed her heart completely. Three pregnancies, two foster children and lots and lots of babysitting later, she figured out what she wanted to be – a mother and a wife! No matter the struggles and juggles, she wouldn’t have it any other way. As a self confessed introvert who struggles to be an extrovert at the expense of social awkwardness, Megan enjoys swimming, reading, cooking (sometimes), the elusive nap (all the time), really good cookies, hosting Mom’s Nights In (and out!), game nights, and the color black. (Notice there was no mention of laundry!) Megan isn’t much for talking about serious things but when she does, she is fierce advocate and tries to create awareness for Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Anxiety Health and the need for Foster Parents in her community. She is a twenty-something-ish mother of two girls, Jocelyn (born July 2005) and Lily (born April 2011). Originally from Upstate South Carolina, Megan moved to the Midlands in June 2010, and has been happily married to her husband David since May 2011.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi! Glad to find your blog! I’m just beginning to blog regularly (like, as of today :)) and did a search on blogging moms in Columbia and found your site. 🙂 My first baby is due April 26 and I have considered learning about infant massage, as I’m really into essential oils and natural health. Have you heard of doTERRA essential oils? They are the only ones on the market that are truly absolutely pure — pure enough to ingest, which has always been a no-no with oils. I have my own oil business and teach others what the oils are and how to use the oils, moving away from pharmaceuticals to this very potent form of natural health and wellness care. I’ve used these oils all throughout my pregnancy and will be using them to prepare for childbirth. I will also be using them during labor and delivery.

    Enjoy your day! Amber

    • I’m glad you found us too! Thanks for stopping by and spending some time. 🙂

      I have heard of doTERRA and I am a fan. A few of my friends sell it and/or use it and rave about the benefits. I hope to tackle my husband with some Elavation here soon. 😉

      Thank you for sharing your uses and successes with us!

    • Hey Amber! Glad you found our site! So excited to hear you are expecting! My little one’s birthday is April 27, so right around the same time you are due! Sounds like things are going well for you. Hope your delivery goes well – you’re going to love motherhood! 🙂

  2. Good blog on baby massage Megan! Babies love be nutured with loving tender touch massage! Babies are shown to be more happy when they are touched and massaged more often. Who doesn’t love a massage right?! 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here