Tips for massaging babies who don’t like to be massaged
My goal is to create happy babies through massage, but of course not all babies lie there cooing while you lovingly perform infant massage techniques on them. From teaching and teaching hundreds of parents and babies, it’s not uncommon for babies to howl in outrage at the first sign of a massage, and the worst thing you can do is grit your teeth and move on – you risk creating a negative association in their minds. So I have written this short article to help those moms with babies who do not like to be massaged.
So why bother? Surely if the baby doesn’t like it, just don’t do it? Well, of course it is an option, but if you consider all the fantastic benefits of infant massage, some of the ideas discussed here are worth trying.
Tip No. 1 Set the scene
Think about the environment and your baby. Is it warm, calm, quiet? A sensitive baby who gets undressed in a drafty church room with six other babies when they are used to quiet and peaceful days at home just the two of you will protest. Some babies love the social interaction of being with other babies and being in a new, simulating environment, and others do not. Think about who your baby is and set the scene accordingly. Choose a smaller class, in a warmer setting, or grab a DVD or download it and practice at home.
Tip # 2 Dress (and undress) wisely
If you go to class or do the routine at home, dress your baby in loose, comfortable clothing. Nightwear is ideal. Pulling and removing a baby’s clothes can be a bit stressful for them, so make things as easy as possible for both of you. Undress them slowly and gently, with lots of positive encouragement to make them happy and comfortable. A major problem with young babies is that they feel insecure when naked (don’t they?), So keep this in mind. Place a muslin or blanket over the parts of the body that are not being massaged. This makes them cold and increases their feelings of security, so unless your baby likes to be naked at any opportunity (mine were and frankly still are), this is a good strategy.
Think about your own massages (do you remember them right? A long, long time ago …) and how you are covered with towels and only the section that you are being massaged is exposed. For newborns, temperature regulation is very important, so I would recommend massaging at home for the first few weeks. For the baby who adamantly refuses to happily undress, or the parent who wants to massage without getting involved with oil (while away from home, for example), it is lovely to massage through clothing. A single layer is best and a gentle effect on the back and legs, while the upright shoulder support is very calming and relaxing. I imagine you do it naturally anyway, so you are already practicing baby massage every day! If you are not happy lying on the floor, sit with your back supported and let him lie on your knees, that way you will also be able to see him better.
Tip No. 3 Timing is everything
The time of day you massage is important, but I can’t tell you what is the best time for you. This is one of the most common questions I am asked, but it is very individual for each baby’s routine, but my advice is always this: massage at your baby’s happiest moment. All babies have a good period of the day: some in the middle of the morning, some in the middle of the afternoon, and some at bedtime. The common consensus has often been to make massage part of the bedtime routine and I would support that, but not if by bath time your baby is screaming, hungry and exhausted. This is not the time to start massaging.
Afternoons can also often be a manic time, with couples coming home and whipping the baby in a frenzy, or older siblings wanting their share of your attention, or people to feed (sometimes even yourself). , etc. So in some cases, it seems crazy trying to adapt ‘massage baby for 20 minutes’ at this point where it’s been just the two of you sitting all morning watching Jeremy Kyle and eating hobnobs (just me then?). I have discovered from my mothers’ comments in class that massage in the morning leads to better quality naps during the day that day and better sleep that night. Also, if you are massaging for colic, mid-morning is a calm and quiet time, and massage seems to have a positive effect on colic time at night. So make positive associations and massage when both of you are at their best.
Tip # 4 Stick to your schedule, not the other way around
Another point to make here is that you shouldn’t feel like you have to sit down and go through a full 20 minute routine every day; I’m sure you have enough to worry about without feeling guilty about not getting a massage as well. Try to do a full massage a couple of times a week, yes that’s great, but also be creative, and introduce it into your routine and not the other way around. I am passionate about massaging my feet (as I am a trained reflexologist), so I would recommend massaging your feet every day, and a good time to do this is during a diaper change (and there are enough in the day) and when having fun a little.
Tip No. 5 Be happy
If you have a baby who is not that interested in getting massages, it can be easy to feel tense before starting, especially in a group situation. Your baby will pick up on this through his body language and his own sixth sense! Stretch out, make yourself comfortable, and relax before you start. Make sure you have everything on hand (oil, wipes, towel). Maintain eye contact and smile! If you are concentrating a lot and looking at your hands instead of looking at them, then you may be a little concerned. Eye contact, smiling, and singing silly songs help!
Hope the above helps you if you have a baby who is not that interested in getting massages. You may also find that as time passes, different movements are preferred and disliked, so it is important to try again in a few weeks and see if things have changed. Enjoy your baby!