The #1 Question Parents Have About Baby Massage
Imagine this: You've set up all the elements of a basic baby massage with your baby and start the massage only to find that your baby is restless and moving everywhere, unable to lie still while you perform the massage.
Wondering why your baby doesn't "love" massage is one of the most common issues new parents face when they start a massage practice, and doubly so if you start when baby is over 6 months and they are becoming super mobile and active.
What if it seems like my baby doesn’t like massage?
Yes, as a certified infant massage instructor and creator of the Kahlmi baby massager, this is one of the most common questions I hear. I see this all the time. Mom or Dad will try a massage and baby doesn't seem to like it and will start to fuss and then you get frustrated and give up.
Also, how you start the massage is so important. I always recommend asking baby for permission first by placing hands on baby’s chest. If the baby is turning away or tensing up it’s not the right time. If they make eye contact, smile or seem comfortable it’s a good time to begin.
When it comes to baby massage, it’s so important to try out different techniques and massage different body parts at different times of the day. For babies who don’t love being massaged, I recommend starting slowly.
You see, babies change and develop so rapidly from minute to minute. As a certified infant massage instructor, I encourage parents to give themselves at least 7-10 days to create a habit and get baby comfortable with intentional touch and massage.
There could be many reasons they don’t like baby massage right away so try to troubleshoot any of these issues before starting.
1. The room is too cold
2. Baby is hungry
3. They aren’t in the mood
4. The pressure is too light or too strong
5. Your baby is in pain or has gas discomfort
6. Your baby is sleepy or overtired
Experiment and try new techniques
Try a few minutes each day alternating positions. Baby can be lying on your tummy while you massage their back or even sitting up while you massage their back. For very young babies, you can massage them while they are lying on your chest, massaging their arms, legs, and back while they have a safe place to lay . You see, there’s no one “right” way to do massage and it's all about figuring out what your baby is comfortable with and learning their cues.
It’s very important to experiment with pressure as well. If the pressure is too light, baby will recoil and feel ticklish. If too hard, baby may feel pain and become overstimulated. A medium pressure like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube is something you will want to achieve.
Some body parts of babies are also more sensitive. If your baby is suffering from colic or constipated, a tummy massage might make them feel uncomfortable at night. You will want to try belly massage in the morning when they are less agitated.
A good place to begin massage is the legs and feet since these are the least sensitive areas on baby's body. The face is also a very sensitive area for many babies. Before starting to massage baby, practice touching your baby's face and turning it into a little game when you tap their nose, eyebrows, and eyes very gently in a singsong voices and name all their facial features.
Some other techniques to keep lively babies settled is to find some happy distractions for them.
1. Toys and board books: Keep a pile of toys and board books that they don't see often and take out when it's time to massage. You can also give your baby a teether to munch on or a teether with a fruit inside to keep them busy. Baby will be occupied and happy to play with the items so you can massage in peace.
2. If doing a back massage, lay them down on a bolster or pillow so they have some additional leverage to make tummy time a bit easier. Grab a water mat so they have something to play with on the floor or black and white flash cards they can look at. A mirror also helps when they are getting a back massage so use your toys and distractions wisely, especially as babies get older.
3. Another great trick is massaging a baby in a play gym. We love the Lovery play gyms and it's a great way to distract baby with toys overhead while you massage. And finally, the Kahlmi baby massager! We designed the Kahlmi to be used not only for massaging your baby or child, but also to keep them occupied while you do a hand massage. The gentle vibrations are very calming for babies and they will usually place in their mouth to feel the vibrating sensation or even try to massage themselves.
So there you have it! No babies hate massage, they just need time and patience to get used to the new routine. Babies in India love massage because it is a daily practice. Commit to doing massage for 7-10 days and you'll find that your baby will not only grow calmer but will be primed to enjoy all the amazing therapeutic benefits of baby massage.