Massage is a touch you do with your baby, not to your baby. It’s an interaction, not a task. You learn which strokes your baby enjoys and, as if dancing, go with the flow of your baby’s body language. While it is nearly impossible to rub your baby the wrong way, here’s how to learn the right touch for your baby.
Choose a warm, quiet, draft-free place. Our favorite is in front of a floor-to-ceiling window with the rays of sunlight warming baby. Do this ritual wherever you and baby are comfortable: on the floor, a padded table, grass, beach, or bed. Put on soothing music . Infant-massage instructors are a good reference source for music to massage by.
Choose a time when you are not in a hurry, not likely to be interrupted, and baby is most in need of relaxing. Some parents like to start the day off with a morning massage. Some prefer a before-nap massage. Babies with evening colic are best massaged toward late afternoon or early evening before the “happy hour” of colic begins. Sometimes a late-afternoon massage can prompt the colicky infant to forget his evening blast.
Infant-massage instructors and their selective infant clientele prefer fruit or vegetable oil (“edible oils”), vitamin E enriched and unscented. Look for “cold pressed” on the label, which means the oil has been extracted only by the use of pressure, not by heat or chemical solvents, which change the characteristics of the oil. Avoid oils made from a petroleum base. Massage oils that have stood the test of time are coconut, almond, apricot, safflower, and avocado oils. Watch for a possible skin allergy rash to occur within an hour, especially to nut oils.