Many parents find that their little ones may have some difficulty with digestion. Constipation occurs for everyone at some time in their life but can cause pain and discomfort for your baby. There are many different methods you can try to help relieve this discomfort, however; I have found infant massage specifically for constipation to be very effective.
Massage can be used to help encourage your baby’s bowels to move. Before starting any massage for the baby:
- Make sure the room is warm enough (especially if removing the baby’s clothing)
- Relax yourself
- Warm your hands by rubbing them together
- Ask baby’s permission to start the massage by making eye contact and verbally asking out loud “Is it okay if I massage your Tummy”
You can massage over clothing, but for tummy massage, I would recommend you use a little oil and massage directly on the skin. The warmth of skin to skin contact can be very helpful for constipation as well.
For oil, use all-natural vegetable or fruit-based oil, something edible. Good choices that you may already have at home include grape seed oil or olive oil. Put a small drop of oil in your hands, about the size of a coin, and rub together to warm. Show baby what you are doing, he’ll start to associate the sight and sound with what comes next.
When doing these massage strokes, use firm but gentle pressure. Always check in with your baby to make sure he likes the massage. Feel free to try a lighter pressure, use a different stroke, or just stop if he’s done.
To massage your baby’s tummy, place warmed hands on the tummy at or below the belly button. I know it’s a small space, but important to target the bowels. Using flat palms gently stroke downward, using hand over hand, a paddling type motion. Next moving hands in a clockwise motion, (very important to move clockwise – if you go the wrong way, you’ll create more issues), stroke the baby’s tummy in a circle.
Now we’ll do a 3-part stroke called:
I Love You!
With baby laying on the floor facing you: (remember clockwise motion)
Start by forming the letter “I” by stroking with moderate pressure from under the left ribcage down to the front of the left hipbone, 10x
Next, form the letter “L” by stroking with moderate pressure from the right ribcage, underneath the ribcage to the left, and down to the front of the left hipbone, forming the letter “L”
Last, do 10 strokes from the front of the right hipbone up to the right ribcage, across to the left ribcage, and down to the left hip bone, forming the letter “U”
Finish on the tummy by stroking down with warmed flat hands a few times.
During tummy massage, your baby may have a bowel movement or release some air – great! You may wish to leave his diaper off during the massage session. Babies like to have the freedom of movement they gain without a diaper, so if you decide to leave it off, just have something underneath in case of any accidents. Do this massage 1-2x daily
Harmony Physiotherapy Can Help!
At Harmony Physiotherapy, we treat pediatric patients using gentle mobilizations of the joints spine, muscle, and other soft tissue massage techniques. The primary objective in these cases is to treat any muscular or joint tightness. Please visit Harmony Physiotherapy for an assessment. We can perform a screening exam of your baby to help identify the correct course of treatment, working in close coordination with your Pediatrician and Physician.