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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

4 Things to do before massaging your baby

1. Remove Distractions

Short Answer: If you are able to set aside a specific time to massage your baby, let that be uninterrupted time. Turn off your phone, the tv, and anything else that would distract from focusing on baby.

More details: Massaging your baby is an excellent opportunity to focus on one-on-one bonding time with your baby. Phone notifications, loud music, or tv news is going to pull your attention away from your baby's cues, and the time you are spending with them. Baby will also learn to recognize massage time as time with you, but if you are distracted and looking away from them, they won't enjoy the time or the massage as much as if they had your undivided attention.

2. Have supplies close at hand

Short answer: Gather anything you might need to keep baby happy - such as a bottle, toy, or extra diapers - before you start so you don’t have to stop and leave baby alone to grab something needed.

More details: Even though massage itself doesn't need any specific tools other than your hands, there are a few things you will want to have on hand to make the massage go easier. Some things you may want to have on hand is the lotion or oil if you are using any, as well as anything to give to baby in case they get fussy such as a bottle, a pacifier, or a toy. Also, diapers and wipes are handy to have nearby because occasionally massage can "get stuff moving" and a diaper change may be necessary. One of the reasons to give baby a massage is to make baby feel secure, safe, and not alone in a big open world. If you get baby comfy, enjoying a nice massage, and suddenly you have to leave baby alone while you go and get something - that negates the close secure feeling you just created. So grab everything you need before you get started.

3. Prepare Your Space

Short answer: Set up a blanket or pillow on the floor, check that the temperature of the room is comfortably warm, and make sure baby isn’t laying directly under a bright light. Then grab your lotion and supplies before starting so you can bring baby into a calm spot right away so baby knows what to expect.

More details: The floor is the best place to massage your baby, despite the myriad of images that show babies on a bed, couch, or massage table. Babies roll and move - the floor is the safest place to give baby a massage. But floors tend to be uncomfortable, so set up a nice comfortable space using blankets and/or pillows so baby has a soft place to lay. Also be aware of the environment - room temperature, light, and noise, and adjust as needed to give baby the most relaxing and calm space. If you can routinely prep your massage space with specific conditions, and bring baby right into that environment, they will learn to recognize that "it's massage time!" and they will anticipate the enjoyment they are about to get out of the massage time.

4. Get comfortable yourself

Short answer: You won’t be able to focus on enjoying the time with your baby if you are uncomfortable. Put on comfy clothes, find a pillow for yourself to sit on if needed, and don’t try to give baby a massage if you are too distracted, stressed, or anxious.

More details: We all know how uncomfortable formal clothes or clothing we have to wear to work can be. They are also not usually the most comfortable thing to sit on the floor wearing. It doesn't do well to try and give your baby a relaxing experience when you yourself is wearing a waistband that cuts into your waist and pants that don't stretch. Get yourself comfortable before you start. Change into comfy clothes, a warm pair of socks, get yourself something warm or cool to drink, put on nice music to relax you, and get yourself into a calm, comfy state so that you can then transfer that calm, comfy energy to your baby. Also know that baby can sense your energy, including if you are dealing with anxiety, stress, or anything that is upsetting you. If trying to "fit in" baby's massage for the sake of keeping to a routine is going to contribute to your stress, skip it - try another day. You need to be in a good place and state of mind to deliver the best results to your baby.

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