Baby massage. As a parent you are often told that massaging a baby is the way forward. It calms your baby, you create a deeper bond with your baby and your baby will love it. Shame nobody told Austin this. Austin came home from nursery a few weeks ago with a ‘Baby Massage Goodie Bag’ full of baby massage essentials. I decided to give it a try.
The bag includes:
- Sunflower oil (apparently the best oil to use for baby massage)
- A towel
- A booklet displaying exactly how to do each massage technique
- A leaflet full of massage routines
I knew that trying to massage Austin was going to be an impossible task, and I was very much correct. Keeping him still long enough to get my hands on him was the biggest challenge. Closely followed by the task of keeping him in one place whilst completely covered in sunflower oil. It was like trying to keep hold of a bar of soap in the shower.
According to the leaflet, it’s a good idea to start with the legs, and then work your way around the body. The first technique we tried was the ‘Easy Squeezy’. The name was very misleading, as it was far from easy. The motion is a circular one starting from the heel and moving up the leg and then back down. A little hard to do with a child that likes to kick his legs around at every opportunity. The easier techniques to use with the legs are the ones involving the feet. Grab a foot and massage the sole of the foot and the toes. At this point Austin gave me a look that said…”Dad, why are you rubbing my toes? Get off!”
We then moved onto the tummy. Unfortunately Austin has inherited from me an extremely ticklish torso. What started out as a massage session quickly turned into a belly laughing tickle session. There was definitely nothing calming about this baby massage class. Austin wriggled and squirmed so much that all that we achieved was a covering in sunflower oil for both of us.
The only massage technique that I know works with Austin is the ‘Sleep Sweep’. This is the magical massage motion that can tame the wriggle monster long enough to get him to sleep. It works 95% of the time as it’s just a simple movement down between his eyes and down the bridge of his nose. As soon as I start his eyes start rolling and I know I’ve got him. A few minutes of this and he will be fast asleep. The results are similar when trying the ‘Hilltops’ technique which is a movement along the tops of the eyebrows.
There are plenty of techniques that I didn’t get round to trying, mainly down to the fact that Austin had become tired of me trying to rub oil all over him. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your baby massage experience…
- Use distraction methods. Try and distract your baby with the TV or some sort of toy. Once they work out what you are actually doing then it’s game over for you.
- Make sure that you have all of the equipment around you ready before you start. You really don’t want to be oiling up your baby and then getting up to get something and returning to find a snail trail of oil leading to another room.
- Don’t be scared of hurting your baby – obviously take care when massaging the sensitive areas like the spine and the joints, but don’t be afraid to get stuck in when it comes to the legs and the arms, it’s not going to do any harm.
- Make sure your baby is able to sit still. If it can’t, maybe see if you’ve kept the receipt and take it back and get a a different one.
Baby massage is a really fun activity to try with your child. Even if you don’t get the calming results, you at least have a lot of fun trying it out. If you’d like to get involved in baby massage and don’t know where to look, then head on over to the nursery’s website. The idea of creating a gift bag for parents with all of the essentials in is a great idea as without it I never would have thought to give baby massage a try. You can also get in contact with a company called ‘Gentle Touch Babies’ which has qualified baby massage instructors.
I’d also love to hear about your baby massage stories and whether your attempts went as badly as mine or were more successful. Leave me your stories in the comments section. Have fun trying this out and good luck.