1. Maintain eye contact and speak softly to your baby.
Establish eye contact with your baby and use a soft tone of voice to speak to them during the massage. This will help strengthen the bond between the two of you and help your baby learn to regulate emotion.
2. Move your hand from the base of the rib cage down the belly.
Place your hand palm-side down on the baby’s torso. Stroke downward, applying just a little bit of pressure. Move across horizontally to reach the left and right sides of your baby’s body.
- Be very gentle with the pressure, especially in your baby’s first few weeks of life. While a little pressure has been shown to enhance the benefits of massage, you don’t want to push too hard on your baby’s little body
3. Use your fingertips to make a circle around their abdomen.
Move in a clockwise direction. This particular massage helps with digestion. Don’t be surprised if your little one passes some gas! If they do, it’s a good sign the massage is working.
4. Do the “I love you” stroke for a sweet and soothing motion.
This movement combines the letters “I,” “L,” and “U.” Start by tracing the letter “I” (just do an up-and-down line) on the baby’s left side. Then, make a backwards “L” by stroking across your baby’s chest below the rib cage and down their left side. Finally, trace an upside-down “U” by moving your fingers up their right side, around their navel, and down their left side.
- As you do this, say “I love you” to your baby, matching the word to the motion.
5. Trace a heart across your baby’s chest.
Use your fingertips for a gentle amount of pressure. Start at their sternum (in the middle of the bottom of their rib cage) and move upwards across their chest to the shoulders. Make your fingertips meet in the middle of their upper chest.
6. Make an “X” over your baby’s whole torso.
Stroke across from the baby’s hip up to their shoulder. Then repeat on the other side.
7. Transfer your baby to your lap or bare chest for the back massage.
If you’d prefer, you can also lay them down on their tummy on a blanket in front of you. Either way, ensure that their head is turned to 1 side, so they can breathe.
- Creating skin-to-skin contact has many benefits, including creating a calming and comforting effect. Placing your baby on your bare chest allows them to hear your heartbeat, feel the warmth of your skin, and smell your skin.
8. Make circles and stroke up and down your baby’s back.
Use your fingertips and avoid pressing on your baby’s spine. Instead, trace small circles on the left and right sides of your baby’s back. Then, stroke your fingers from your baby’s neck down to their buttocks and back up again. Finally, use the tips of your fingers to form a rake and very gently “rake” up and down your little one’s back.
Jomaa Hamamich December 15, 2021