Loving Touch is Important at Every Age!
Recently I visited with our twenty something son. As he walked in, he gave me a big hug and I kissed him on the cheek. As I was preparing for my parenting groups this week I was thinking about that moment. The hug and kiss of my son, who is definitely a young man now, was as sweet ( albeit a bit more scruffy and I was on my tip toes) as the snuggle I would have with him as a baby. Loving touch with your child is at the center of a parent and child bond. The connection between child and parent through touch is undeniable. I am a firm believer in the importance of touch and our children….from birth, to toddler years, preschool, school age, and yes even in the awkward teens. Continuing the physical hugs and kisses are important for your child and you.
Snuggles and touches are natural for most parents with an infant. Infant massage has been proven to provide many benefits for babies. Routine loving massage can help an infant
- Gain weight
- Improve sleep
- Improve their latch for nursing
- Increase bonding
- Improve neurological development
- Improve their immune system
- Decrease teething pain
- Decrease congestion
- Learn body awareness
- Learn that touch is a loving expression
- and the list goes on…..
- Turn off th TV, cell phone and other distractions. This is time to concentrate on your baby alone.
- Warm up the room and your hands.
- Lie your baby on his/her back a warm towel or blanket.
- Use a vegetable based oil. (if you could eat it, then it is OK)
- Make sure you are calm.
- Make eye contact with your baby.
- Ask permission to touch, show your baby your hands.
- Lay your hands on your child lovingly. Often babies prefer touch on legs and feet first.
- Use light gentle touch, but not a tickle touch.
- Move from the center out…upper thigh to foot.
- Give equal treatment to both sides of the body!
- Movements should be slow and relaxed…like a lullaby. Sing while you do it! 🙂
- Start with a short session and watch your baby’s cues. If your baby wiggles away, fusses, looks away, then stop and try again at another time. As your baby becomes accustomed to massage, the length of time may increase. You don’t have to massage your baby’s whole body, just the parts that he or she enjoys!
- Make eye contact with your baby and sing or talk to him–or play music.
- Breath, relax yourself
- Hold one foot in one hand and use the other hand to milk the leg. Squeeze thigh to foot, this is the “milking” motion.
- Roll leg between hands from thigh to ankle, like you are rolling dough or clay.
- Finish with long strokes from thigh to foot.
- Press the sole of your baby’s foot with your thumbs. Massage each toe. Play “this little piggy”.
- Repeat on other leg.
- Follow same process of milking, rolling, and stroking on the arms.
- Press the palm of your baby’s hand with your thumbs. Massage each finger.
- Slide your palm and fingers in a circular motion from the ribs downward. Then move clockwise around the tummy. Smooth the chest like pages in a book.
- If you have used massage for a while, some babies will allow you to massage their face. Massage face with light fingertips stroking across the forehead from the center to the sides. Massage tears ducts. Move down nose and on the sides. Use a circular motion from the temples down the side of the face.
- Massage shoulders and use long strokes down the back and on the bottom.
Remember…the intent of your touch is much more important than your technique! Just relax and enjoy!!
I Love You massage for colic or gas
- Trace the letter “I” on the right side of your baby’s tummy. Start just under his ribs and move down to your baby’s hip.
- Now stroke from left to right on your baby’s lower tummy making the long part of the letter “L”.
- Make a short downward stroke on the right side of your baby’s tummy making the short to complete the “L”.
- Complete the “I love you” by making an upside down “U” starting at your baby’s left hip and circling along the top of the tummy and down the right side.
- Continue these strokes to help calm a gassy tummy.
Massage can continue to some degree all the way through childhood. There were nights that I sat on the side of my children’s bed and massaged an aching tummy or head, and I have massaged sore muscles after a big game or meet. The continued touch with your child will keep you connected in many ways. There were certainly times when I hugged my children in those teen years and I got an eye roll too…but because of those continued “loving touches” through the years, the hugs in the stands of a high school football games, college track meets, quick weekend visits at school, and now when our “adult” (they will always be my kids) kids visit those hugs and kisses continue. Don’t underestimate the value of teaching your child the benefits of touch as an expression of love.
Check out your local hospital for classes on infant massage.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.