Whether you’re a naturally zen mama or a skeptic, I highly recommend learning a few techniques of infant massage (besides, nobody has to see you doing it but a small person who doesn’t speak). You can enjoy some quiet time and get to know your baby’s tiny developing body AND often get the kid to chill out and go to sleep. Win win.
I was lucky to live in Berkeley and have a moms group that offered a short workshop in baby massage and the opportunity to pick up a few other moves in a kick-ass mommy yoga class. To add to my tiny massage education, The Baby Whisperer book has a ten-step plan to great infant massage.
Massage can be fun for both of you even if you are making it up as you go as long as neither of you gets too sweaty and starts crying. Ease into it and stop if either of you are too bothered to continue. Build up to a longer massage when you’re both ready.
Some quick tips and ideas:
- Keep the room warm and cozy. I like to throw some hand towels in the dryer beforehand; I use one for underneath and one to cover the bits I’m not massaging. The top towel also doubles in case of unexpected peeing.
- Talk through what you’re doing; I say stuff like “I’m making swirly motions on your teeny tiny foot with my thumbs”
- Use a little bit of olive oil on your hands. I fill a super small bowl with the olive oil and keep it next to my work area/changing table.
- Try infant massage while traveling to help your baby unwind and feel “at home” in an unfamiliar place.
- Move on if baby seems annoyed. Try another body part or give it up entirely…
I’m convinced that massage is a great pre-bedtime ritual because even a short massage makes babies hungry, tired and quite happy. I used to give Holden massages whenever we traveled away from home overnight. However awkward you might feel while doing it, try to relax and enjoy the moment.
I like this video which shows a step-by-step technique even though the creator thinks you need special baby lotion, and I do not.
For a more reference, see Infant Massage (a handbook for loving parents) or my old standby, The Baby Whisperer.