Saturday, September 30, 2006Infant Massage Communication: Part 2
One basic point to remember is that massage strokes going away from the heart are relaxing (in the Indian tradition) and strokes going toward the heart are stimulating (in the Swedish tradition); both have their proper place and time with babies. There are seven other "P" points to remember:
Are you comfortable? You can be standing, sitting or propped on the floor with your baby, whatever works best. For the baby, is he/she supported in a way that promotes physical security and joint flexion? Tiny infants will need soft, nesting pillows to swaddle in while older babies can be experimented with to find what works best... on their tummies, backs, sides, even while crawling or nursing!
Let the baby always have a clear and predictable routine before you start massage. Be very attentive to their cues. Are they making eye contact? Or is the baby refusing to "give permission" by turning his head away, thrashing about, or fussing? Respect these cues.
Parent should be calm, and focused... do some breathing exercises prior to beginning just to put yourself in the right frame of mind
Massage communication should be like a rhythmic, repetitious and predictable dance... flowing and adapting to the cues and physical positioning needs as they come up.
Always maintain a secure, sometimes firm, but always GENTLE touch. Be responsive to baby's cues.
The more consistency you develop in an infant massage routine the easier it will be for baby to receive touch and give cues... as you give touch and receive cues.
Don't get caught up in proper technique! (Except ALWAYS go clockwise on a baby's tummy... the way of digestion) Simply enjoy being with your baby.
Find a time of day where baby is in a quiet alert state. Don't attempt to massage when the baby is sleeping or fussy. Many people add infant massage to their night-time routine. Others like to go outside on a sunny day and sit in the shade to do it. Whatever works best for you. Try to avoid the baby oils or heavily perfumed creams. The best thing, (and cheapest too) is to simply use a natural, edible oil that is safe for the baby's skin to absorb. I like sunflower seed oil because it's light and pretty odorless. Others use olive oil, apricot oil... pretty much anything but nut oils (avoid those in case of allergies). Also, infant massage isn't just for infants! There are ways to adapt it to older children so lifelong communication skills can be established. Of course these ways respect the child's privacy and aren't as intense as massage for babies.
Regarding sources for more info:
Hands down the BEST book out of many on this topic is "Infant Massage: a Handbook for Loving Parents" by Vimala Schneider McClure. Some websites to consider are:
http://www.spectrumorganics.com/ *a good site if you want organic oils
http://www.zerotothree.org/massage.html *a great article on massage benefits
http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/T110209.asp *includes an overview as well as specific strokes.
-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA
Labels: useful ideas