By Annie Rosemurgy | Photographed By Kaia Calhoun
Babies thrive on touch, and lots of it. Gentle movement stimulates the feel-good centers in their brain and releases tension from their body. Learning a few basic baby stretches can give you a repertoire of intentional touches that may help reduce fussiness, help your little one sleep more peacefully and alleviate the common discomforts of babyhood. Stretching is a wonderful way for people besides Mom to bond with the baby as well. Soothing touch and movement are beneficial from the day of birth, says Kara Donovan-Guido, an expert in infant massage at Madison’s Lighthouse Healing, and can continue until baby decides she’s on the move. Here Donovan-Guido shares some her favorite stretching and massage movements.
Wait till baby is in a receptive state of quiet wakefulness. To begin, always greet her with a smile, make eye contact and ask her permission to be touched.
Briskly rubbing your hands together signals the movement session begins, and baby may delight you down the road with a smile and full-body wiggle upon hearing this cue!
At the end of pregnancy, womb conditions get very crowded indeed and many babies are born with tight shoulders as a result. Cross baby’s right arm over left in a hugging motion across her body and apply easy pressure. Repeat with opposite arms.
TUMMY KNEE PRESS
Colic, that bugaboo of the first three months of life, can be the ultimate frustration for new parents. Baby seems to be in pain but where is it coming from? Knee bends often benefit colicky babies by applying pressure to the stomach, which may be the cause of the discomfort, as well as stretching tight hips. Gently extend the legs and then press to the abdomen three to five times.
CONDITIONED RELAXATION RESPONSE
Many newborns struggle with the transition from quiet-womb life to the noisy, chaotic world. Baby can benefit from a total-body tension reducer. Hold baby’s arm in your hand and tap the back of the arm to encourage it to release and extend. Give baby verbal cues to relax.
HANDS OF A CLOCK
Another great technique for tummy trouble. Move hands around baby’s abdomen in a clockwise circle, one hand following the other. This motion outlines the direction of the intestinal tract and may help a gassy, fussy baby. Your older tike may squeal in ticklish laughter though!