Dealing with a crying baby is part of being a parent, but trying to soothe an inconsolable baby experiencing prolonged crying spells can be extremely challenging and overwhelming for any parent. I had a very colicky baby and did a lot of research on baby soothing techniques. I read about infant massage being an effective technique to relieve colic in babies and decided to give it a try. I attempted to massage my baby several times during actual crying episodes and got very frustrated because it did not work. I realized that my baby’s abdominal muscles tightened with crying and his belly was too rigid to be massaged.
Frustrated but curious to learn more about infant massage to relieve colic, I continued my research. I came across a couple of articles and videos that explained that it is important to massage the baby’s tummy several times during the day (instead of waiting for a crying spell) in order to prevent gas from building up. For several days I massaged my baby after diaper changes and noticed that the days I did it consistently, the crying (particularly at night) was not as intense.
Infant massage did not completely treat my baby’s colic, but it helped, and it became one of my favorite baby soothing techniques. Here is a step-by-step guide to baby massage.
BABY MASSAGE TO RELIEVE COLIC
- Lay your baby down on his back
- Choose an oil (preferably a natural and edible oil with no chemicals or scent) and put it on your hands to help them glide over your baby’s skin. I used coconut oil and occasionally added a couple of drops of lavender, which is a soothing essential oil.
- With the palm of your hand on top of the baby’s chest (your fingers should be pointing to the side), bring your hand down in a sweeping motion, gently pressing his tummy. As your hand is around the belly button, place the opposite hand on the baby’s chest and stroke downward. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
- Holding your baby’s knees together, gently bend his legs at the knees and push them in to his tummy. Hold his legs in this position for a count of six.
- Then give your baby slow, gentle tummy strokes, moving your hands in a clockwise direction. Doing it clockwise is important because it follows the direction of your baby’s intestines encouraging the trapped wind to move the right way. It also stimulates his bowls if he is constipated.
The video below from Isis Parenting demonstrates how to apply the steps described above.
THE TIGER IN THE TREE HOLD
Besides learning how to properly massage my baby, I learned about a position — The Tiger in the Tree Hold — that helped me calm my son during his distressed periods. The pressure and warmth from your hand soothe and relax babies with colic.
- Hold you baby facing away from you and downwards with their head firmly supported in the crook of your elbow and holding their crotch with the same hand. Your other hand will be free and you can use it to pat or gently massage your baby’s tummy or back. Glide and walk around holding your baby in this position. It works like magic!
The video below form Infacol demonstrates the Tiger in the Tree Technique.
I hope baby massage helps relieve your baby’s colic, but if it doesn’t work, it is still a great way for you to bond and connect with your baby!
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