I didn’t know if there was a particular way to massage Radley when he was born but I definitely loved putting oil or lotion on him and giving his feet, arms and legs a little rub. Same for Ace. I have read how wonderful it is to take time to massage your baby and even after Ace was born I almost signed up for a course on infant massage through my delivery hospital, so, fast-forward to a week away from delivering baby number three, I thought it would be great to talk to a massage therapist about some infant massage guidance and this connection with your little babe.
Infant Massage with Sarah Wozny
Can you tell me about yourself and your profession?
My name is Sarah Wozny and I’ve been a Registered Massage Therapist for 5 years now. I’ve spent time in massage therapy clinics, spas and gyms. I am currently at Coral Medical Health Spa
. I’ve taken extra courses in hot stone massage and infant massage. I work with people of all ages. The youngest person I’ve massaged, other than babies, was 4 years old and the oldest was 89. For both patients, it was their first massage.
What are the benefits of infant massage?
There are many benefits of infant massage. The techniques help with digestion, circulation, brain development, weight gain, and some specific techniques are great for colic and congestion. Skin to skin contact with babies is crucial to their development. With the stimulation of skin, the brain is stimulated. Babies become more body aware and this can be carried with them through their lives.
When should a parent start massaging their babies? As soon as right after birth?
Parents can start massaging their babies right away. That skin to skin contact should start immediately. Parents will get to know their baby and know their routine. You should massage your baby at a time of day that works for them. Either after a nap or a feeding when they’re happy and less fussy. Massaging your infant is a great bonding experience for parents. Especially for the parent that goes back to work or works full-time. As soon as the parents are comfortable around their baby, the massaging can start.
Does how we massage our babies change as they age?
Not really. As long as you and your baby are comfortable, then keep doing what you’re doing. Your boundaries with your child might change as they get older, the time or duration in which you massage might change, but techniques will be the same. You can always seek professional help from a health care professional if you are unsure of how these things should change.
How should we massage our babies?
1. Be in a warm comfortable place. That might be in your living room, in the nursery or in your bedroom.
2. It’s best that your baby be unclothed or just in a diaper.
3. Ask permission from your baby if you can massage them. You can rub oil in your hands as you ask this to give the baby a visual cue that it’s massage time.
4. Start with long soothing strokes from chest and arms to torso and legs.
5. You can move to each leg, starting with the foot and ankle to knee and thigh. Use small circular motions. Be cautious that your baby’s feet might be more sensitive and they will want to draw back. If that happens, keep going, but don’t force open the foot to uncurl.
6. Gentle wringing motions up the legs and arms are very soothing and stimulating.
7. Massaging the chest is great for congestion. Start with both hands (or as many fingers as you can fit) on the center of the chest and move out towards the arms.
8. Moving to the tummy. Massage is great for constipation and helping things move along. Massage in a large circular clockwise motion (the same as the digestive tract.) You can also pump the legs at this time, bringing the knees to the belly button and extending the legs back out.
9. You can massage your baby’s face. They might not like this the first couple of times but only do what your baby is comfortable with. Start at the forehead, using the sides of your hands to cup the face and move down to the chin in a slow soothing motion. Use your fingertips to massage the nose, sinuses, chin, and cheeks.
10. When you massage your baby’s back and neck, you might notice something. They really like it. With gentle motions moving towards the heart, draw small circles on either side of their spine with your finger tips. Using your index fingers and those same small circular motions, massage the neck and the back of the head. They will love this!
Your baby will give your cues throughout if they’re okay with what you’re doing or not. They will also tell you when they’re done. They will start to wiggle and whine and move away. The massage may only last 5-10 minutes to start, but the more often you massage your baby, the more they will like it and look forward to it.
Do you recommend any specific oils or lotions for baby massages?
Any edible oils. Coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, or even olive oil! Babies love putting their hands and feet in their mouth so anything they can ingest is what you want to use.
When would it be good or necessary to bring a baby in for a massage with a massage therapist?
It really depends on your baby. Time of day varies but in regards to conditions, when your baby is constipated, colic, congested, has torticollis, and problems sleeping are a few examples. Be sure to talk to your primary care physician and get the green light before coming to see a therapist for any specific condition.
Do you also hold workshops or classes for parents?
When parents come in to see me, it’s one-on-one and I show the parents after the treatment how they can continue treatment at home. I don’t have any workshops scheduled yet, but might have some in the future.
Anything that I haven’t asked that you think is important to share?
It’s important to note that even though massage for infants has proven to be beneficial to babies, it does not replace medicine and doctors. It is meant to be a complimentary therapy to help your baby grow and develop and help them through the fastest growing time they will ever go through.
Thank you Sarah! If you have any questions, please comment below and I will touch base with Sarah. And, if you are interested in booking with Sarah, reach out to her at Coral Medical Health Spa. Have fun connecting with your little babe.