If you are a parent or have friends who are, perhaps you have dealt with a baby who is gassy, constipated, or has colic. As a side note, a baby is diagnosed as having colic if he/she is crying for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, for three weeks, in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of two weeks and four months” (Kheir, 2012). With all three of the issues above, likely baby’s tummy is making him/her feel uncomfortable and fussy. Fortunately, there are some massage techniques that can help you give your little ones a sense of relief, without using medications. The massage techniques below should be done regularly, twice a day for up to two weeks. You can massage your little one’s abdomen very easily, because it is available during or after bath time, bedtime, and diaper changes. Place your baby on a blanket in front of you, with them slightly elevated, so that their head is higher than their belly button. Grab some lotion and warm it up in your hand by rubbing your hands together. Be sure you do this in view of your baby each time; this will create a signal to your baby that it is massage time. Try to find a regular time when you feel that your baby is receptive to having massage and make it a part of your daily routine. Step 1: Begin by resting your hands on their chest gently and talk to them in a soft voice so that they feel reassured. With a flat hand running across your baby’s abdomen, stroke down towards their waist, hand over hand, like a paddle wheel, with some pressure, 6-8 times. You can sing softly while you do this if you like which will help your baby feel at ease. Step 2: Take your baby’s legs, bend them at the knees, and gently push their legs into their tummy. Hold their legs into their tummy for a count of 6 and repeat 5-6 times and when complete, gently stretch their little legs out and give them a gentle shake. Step 3: Using the first 3 fingers of your right hand, start drawing little circles in a clockwise direction starting on your baby’s right hip, moving above their belly button, and ending on their left hip. You always want to be moving in a clockwise direction from their right hip to their left hip with gentle pressure, so it looks like you are drawing a circle on their tummy. You can use your left hand to follow the right and continue for 6 circles around their abdomen with each hand. You can end by going back to Step 2 by bending their legs at the knees and gently pushing their knees to their chest for 6 second holds, 5-6 times and then a gentle stretch and shake at the end. With any success, you will hear grumbling in their tummy, and they may release what was stored up in there which might be more than you think! So there you have it - take the time to help your baby, reinforce the connection, and hopefully your nerves and baby’s bodies will find some relief. Sometimes just feeling like you are trying to help, is better than feeling hopeless to baby’s woes.
Written by Kelly Carrington - Registered Massage Therapist and Certified Doula