How Often Do You Change A 2 Year Olds Nappy Tips For Massaging Babies Who Don’t Like Being Massaged

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Tips For Massaging Babies Who Don’t Like Being Massaged

My goal is to create a Happy Baby through massage, but of course not all babies lie there cooing as you lovingly perform baby massage techniques on them. From running and teaching hundreds of parents and babies, it’s not uncommon for babies to howl in disgust at the first hint of massage, and the worst thing you can do is grit your teeth and carry on – you risk creating negative associations in their minds. That’s why I wrote this short article to help moms with babies who don’t like to be massaged.

So why bother? Surely if the baby doesn’t like it, just don’t do it? Of course, this is an option, but when you consider all the fantastic benefits of infant massage, it’s worth trying some of the ideas discussed here.

Tip #1 Set the scene

Think about the environment and your child. Is it warm, calm, quiet? A sensitive baby being undressed in a draughty church hall with six other babies when they are used to quiet, peaceful days at home just the two of you is likely to protest. Some babies love social interaction with other babies and being in new, simulated environments and some don’t. Think about which child they are and set the scene accordingly. Choose a smaller class, in a warmer environment, or buy a DVD or download and practice at home.

Tip #2 Dress (and undress) wisely

Dress your child in loose, comfortable clothes if you are going to class or doing a routine at home. Sleeping suits are ideal. Pulling on and off the baby’s clothes can be a little stressful for them, so make it as easy as possible for both of you. Undress them slowly and gently, with lots of positive encouragement to make them feel happy and comfortable. A big problem with little babies is that they feel insecure when they’re naked (don’t we all?!), so keep that in mind. Place a muslin or blanket on the parts of the body that are not being massaged. This keeps them from getting cold and makes them feel more secure, so unless your child is one who loves to be naked at any opportunity (mine were and honestly still are), this is a good strategy.

Think about your own massages (do you remember them well? Once upon a time…) and how you are covered in towels and only the part you are massaging is exposed. Temperature regulation is very important for newborns, so I would recommend massaging at home for the first few weeks. For a baby who doesn’t want to happily undress, or for parents who want to massage without messing with oil (like when they’re out and about), it’s lovely to massage with clothes on. One layer is the best and the gentle effleurage on the back and legs, while the upright help to the shoulders is very calming and soothing – I think you do it naturally anyway, so you’re already practicing baby massage every day! If they are not happy with them lying on the floor, sit with their backs supported and have them lie on their knees so they can see you better too.

Tip #3 Timing is everything

The time of day you massage is important, but I can’t tell you when is best for you. This is one of the most common questions I get, but it is so individual to each child’s routine, but my advice is always this: Massage at your child’s happiest time. Every baby has a good time of day – some are in the morning, some in the afternoon and some around bedtime. The general consensus has often been to make a massage part of the bedtime routine, and I would encourage that, but not if your baby is screaming from hunger and exhaustion by the time the bath is done. This is not the time to start the massage.

Evenings can also often be a manic time, with partners coming home and whipping the baby into a frenzy, or older siblings wanting their share of your attention, or people to feed (sometimes you) and so on. So in some cases, it seems crazy to try to fit “20 minutes of massaging the baby” into this time when it’s just the two of you sitting around all morning watching Jeremy Kyle and eating bacon (is that just me?). From the feedback from the mothers at the lessons, I found out that morning massage leads to better daytime sleep and evening sleep. Also, if you are massaging for colic, mid-morning is a calm and quiet time, and massaging seems to have a positive effect on the evening period of colic. So create positive associations and massage when you are both at your best.

Tip #4 Work it into your plan, not the other way around

Another point I should make here is that you shouldn’t feel like you have to sit and do the full 20 minutes every day – I’m sure you have enough to worry about without feeling guilty about not getting a massage too! Try to fit in a full massage a few times a week, yes that’s great, but also be creative and make it part of your routine, not the other way around. I enjoy massaging their feet (as I am a trained reflexologist), so I would recommend massaging their feet every day, and a good time to do this is during a diaper change (and there are quite a few during the day) and when they have a bit of kicking.

Tip #5 Be happy

If you have a child who isn’t that keen on massaging, it can be easy to feel tense before you start, especially in a group situation. Your baby will pick this up through your body language and their own sixth sense! Before you begin, stretch, get comfortable, and relax. Make sure you have everything on hand (oil, wipes, towel). keep eye contact and smile! If you’re concentrating hard and looking at your hands rather than them, they can get a little anxious. Eye contact, smiling and singing silly songs all help!

I hope the above helps if you have a child who is not so keen on massage. You may also find that different movements become preferred and disliked over time, so it’s important to try again in a few weeks to see if things have changed. Enjoy baby!

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