Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Learning To Massage Again

Some babies go through a period when they are not open to the idea of massage. You may have been massaging all along, or it may be a new idea that you wanted to try. Either way, when babies reach the age when they can crawl, they are too interested in exploring the new world around them to lie still long enough to allow you to massage them.

You should keep up the touching associated with massage, however. If your baby is too active to permit a full massage, you can try rubbing her shoulders when the two of you are sitting together on the porch. Or you can offer your baby boy a gentle massage by rubbing his legs when he is lying down enjoying a quiet toy.

The benefits of touch to your baby are enormous. There is ample evidence that touch increases a baby's desire to develop as early as a few weeks old. While this evidence does not have to be massage, you should offer your baby skin-to-skin contact whenever possible. This touch increases your baby's self-esteem and will encourage him or her to want to explore and learn.

When your baby is no longer a baby, but a toddler, he or she probably will be open to massage again. When you decide that your little one is ready to return to the massages you enjoyed when he or she was a tiny baby, you can try these simple steps to smooth the transition.

First, you can have your baby lie on his or her back. Put your hands together in the center of the baby's chest and slowly make outward circles. Repeat this massage technique four to five times. Then place your fingers on your baby's shoulders and rub them backward and forward, gently moving the shoulders as you go. This technique should help to relax the tense neck and shoulder muscles.

After you have relaxed your baby's shoulders, you can move your hands down the baby's torso to the hips. Next, you should complete the torso part of the massage by putting the bottom of your hand near the baby's belly button. Make circles on baby's tummy with the butt of your hand.

If your baby will let you, try giving a foot massage next. Stroke your hands up and down from the baby's ankle to his or her toes. By doing so several times, you can help your baby to relax his feet.

This type of massage will help your baby to calm down and relieve a little stress. While it may seem to you that your baby's life is not difficult, he or she is learning something new everyday and is struggling to get a handle on the world.

Using massage is a great way to allow you and your baby to bond but make sure that both of you are interested in the massage. Do not continue massages if they make your little one uncomfortable, but you likely will find that both of you will enjoy the experience.

By Julia Mercer

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