5+ Effective Baby Massages for Constipation
My poor little boy really suffered from constipation during his first 2 months. I felt so helpless watching him wriggle about in discomfort and not knowing what to do to. Using baby massage for constipation was one of the only things that worked to get things moving.
Constipation in babies isn’t uncommon. It’s thought that it affects up to 15% of infants. Swallowing a lot of air when feeding and being unable to move around much, contributes to both gas and constipation. Winding your baby after every feed may help them but you may find you need to do more.
This is where baby massage for constipation can help. This article will explain everything you need to know – the what, the when and the how. It will show you specific massages you can do at home to help relieve your little one’s constipation and make them more comfortable. Baby massage is a lovely baby activity to enjoy together. They will still benefit from it even if they don’t suffer from gas and constipation.
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Although there isn’t a set age you should start baby massage with your little one, the NCT recommends starting with babies that are 6 weeks or older. At this age they are likely to be more settled and may have even started getting into a routine.
It’s usually best to massage your baby just before their bath and/or bed. This is because it will help them to relax, meaning they will sleep better.
Make sure your baby hasn’t just fed. Massaging them on a full stomach will cause them to spit up. Equally, try to make sure they aren’t hungry because they may get agitated, rather than enjoying the massage.
I used to massage my little one every night. He would then have his bath and a feed before going to bed. I loved our massage time so much. I was gutted when he started moving around and wasn’t interested. But I hope to do it with him when he’s a bit older and understands.
Preparation is key and will ensure your baby gets the most out of the massage. Scrabbling around trying to find the things you need during the massage is not fun. and will stress you out. A calming atmosphere will let you focus solely on your baby and the activity.
Some of the things you should set out before the massage include:
A towel for your baby to lay on. The massage is best done when they are naked so try to make the room warm beforehand. A towel will help to catch any messes and you can use a clean part of the towel to wipe the oil off of your hands before changing your baby.
A Baby Mat (optional)
The baby massage set from Fisher-Price comes with a machine washable cover and is suitable for newborns. The soft crinkle book and carrot teether will help to keep your baby entertained during the massage. It also comes with a tummy time pillow, which is perfect if you’re massaging your baby’s back.
Baby’s skin is sensitive so a massage oil with natural ingredients like coconut oil will work best. Coconut oil can also be used for cradle cap and other things. When using the oil, put it onto your hands first and rub them together to make them warm. Then start the massage.
Nappy changing items
A fresh nappy and wipes will help you to get your baby changed quickly after the massage.
Playing baby music or lullabies will help you to create a relaxing environment and a calming experience for your baby.
Try to dim the light in the room by shutting curtains or blinds. If the room is too dark, a night light will help to give you just the amount of light you need.
I used to massage my baby in the living room. I had a box with a towel, nappies, wipes, massage oil etc. that lived in the room, so I didn’t have to prepare everything each time.
Baby Massage on the Tummy
There are 3 different ways you can massage your baby’s tummy to ease their constipation. When doing the massages, you want to ensure you’re not tickling your baby with light touches. However, you also want to make sure you’re not applying too much pressure. They need less pressure than an adult would if they were being massaged. Always make sure you go clockwise. This ensures you work with the organs and the digestive system and not against them.
Place your hand just below your baby’s ribs. Using your whole hand stroke downwards. Then repeat with your other hand and so on.
Using 2 or 3 fingers, start at the edge of your baby’s belly button. Make slow clockwise circles around the belly button. Then gradually make the circles bigger.
I Love You
Use 3 or 4 fingers for this massage. Start on the right side and place your fingertips just below your baby’s ribs. Stroke down, saying ‘I’. Next place your fingertips just below their ribs on the left side. Move your hand across their body to the right side, then stroke down saying ‘love.’ Finally place your fingertips at the bottom of their tummy on the left side and draw a rainbow above their belly button. Say the word ‘you’ whilst doing this. You should end up on the lower opposite side on the right.
Baby Massage on the Legs
Moving your baby’s legs in certain ways will help them to release gas and may help with their constipation. I’ve added the video below, just to show the movements. I personally wouldn’t move my baby’s legs as fast or push their knees up to their chest as high as what’s shown in the video. But you know your baby best, so always use your own judgment and go by their cues.
Cycling the legs
Hold your baby’s feet in each hand and slowly move their legs as if they were riding a bike.
Side to Side
Holding your baby’s feet, bring their knees up and gently move them from side to side. This may not be suitable for baby’s with hip dysplasia, so make sure you do further research first if you feel this may be an issue.
Hold the bottoms of your baby’s feet and gently push them up so their knees come to their tummy. Stretch the legs out and repeat.
When doing these massages, make sure you observe your baby closely. Stop if they seem to resist, fuss, or cry.
Baby Massage Techniques Using the Feet and Reflexology
Reflexology works well for most babies and it’s safe. Applying gentle pressure to certain points on your baby’s feet may help to restore the flow of energy to the whole body and help with constipation.
Some of the techniques I tried with my baby were massaging the heel of the foot and sole of the foot.
Heel of the foot
Hold your baby’s foot in one hand. Massage the heel of their foot with your other hand using circular clockwise motions.
Sole of the foot
Hold one foot in your hand. Use your thumb on your other hand and place it just under the middle toe. Stroke down towards the heel whilst applying a bit of pressure.
Baby massage for constipation is a lovely way to bond with your baby and ease their discomfort. Make sure your baby hasn’t just had a feed before massaging them. Preparing and setting out everything you need beforehand will increase yours and your baby’s enjoyment and help you to remain focused on your baby. It will boost the feel-good hormone (Oxytocin) and help you to bond closely.
Massaging the different parts of your baby’s body – the tummy, legs, and feet, will help to relieve their gas and constipation.
Massage is a great sensory experience for your baby. They will enjoy it even when they’re not constipated. So try to make an effort to massage them often. Just before bed is ideal. It will help to soothe and relax them.
There are lots of other massage techniques you can do on other parts of your baby’s body. The Infant massage: a Handbook for Loving Parents, has great reviews and lots of certified educators of infant massage highly recommend it.
If you have any concerns whatsoever about your baby’s constipation, please seek medical advice. Although baby massage helped relieve some of my little boy’s constipation, it did not solve the problem. It turned out he had a cow’s milk allergy!
What do you think of the baby massage for constipation techniques? Let me know in the comments below.