Yes, it really is, totally done everywhere now,it is safe and babies enjoy it!!
Not only my own babies, but recently, I have had the pleasure of observing students from Humber College during an Infant Massage session at the Ontario Early years Centre in Brampton. I was happy to see that both moms and babies thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Moms learning new techniques and their babies reaping the wonderful rewards.
I really was bowled over. You see, I learned infant massaging techniques from my mother, she from hers,and so on, and so on.
I have been taught that it was a necessity, but we when became aware that my daughter “was on the way”, my husband and I went into a panic and took to all the baby books that we could lay our hands on, not too many of them mentioned infant massage so I deduce that it’s probably “old wives tale“.
After she was born, in comes the the fussy grandmas, bathing and “anointing” (massaging), and chiding me for not caring about massaging their granddaughter.
“Their grandbaby will have bowed legs,” they said.
“Her fontanelle won’t close if I don’t ” annoint” the skull” or “Her head would be pointy”.
I didn’t believe, for one minute! that my babies would become severely deformed without being massaged.
They were appalled, but I was forgiven because I was young, they didn’t say it, but the word naive was ringing in my ears.
Well, it worked, I started massaging and we loved it.
I would spend about 7 – 11 minutes massaging my baby after her bath. Just enough baby oil in my palms, especially the pads of my fingers, starting at the hips, gently, but firmly massage in a circular movement, from inside to out and going down to the toes.
When massaging the upper body you start from the shoulders going out to the wrists for the limbs and the same firm, gentle circular motion on the chest.
Take the cue from baby. The key here, is to be firm but gentle on the touch and, observe your baby for discomfort or pain.Stop immediately if there are any signs.
You would want to talk to baby in soothing tones, ask permission or just let her know what you are doing or name the body part or make up a rhyme, whatever keeps the atmosphere light and stress free.
Be sure to lay baby on her back and gently roll the arms outward, from shoulder to wrist in a gradual rocking motion, if you are permitted. Repeat the same process with legs from hip to ankle and going outward.
Another technique is to gently take hold of his legs, just above the ankle, and move it so that the knees are bent going up to the stomach, remember, no pressure on the limbs or stomach. Arms go in and out from the chest, always gently.
For the face, you use the pad of your fingers, in tiny circular motions, always from in to out. Avoid your baby’s eyes and the fontanelle – i.e. the soft spot on the top of her skull where bone hasn’t united as yet.
Turn baby over onto his tummy and gently massage his back, firm, circular motions, beginning from shoulders to heels.
Relax, have fun and remember, as with every thing, you and your bundle are partners on this journey.
Another bonding routine, we made up games, shared laughs and had fun doing it. You know, it really boosts parents’ happiness to hear and see their baby’s toothless laughter.