I am sharing our personal massage routine as a Johnson’s Ambassador. All opinions are my own. #Johnsonspartners #somuchmore
It’s no secret that I’m an Autism mom. Judah was diagnosed right before he turned two, and it has been quite the journey for us. In case you weren’t aware, Autism deals largely with sensory information processing and how individuals interact with the world around them. A lot of the time (Judah included) an Autistic child has issues with touch and the way things feel. He in particular has always found comfort in deep, steady pressure on his skin, and we learned early on in his therapy how beneficial massage is. What we didn’t know was that massage is an important part of EVERY child’s development, so while we had been using it as a therapy tool for Judah, it’s also just as important for typically developing children. Routine massage techniques done from birth have shown to be beneficial to healthy cognitive and social development, so when Kaia was born we started doing our weekly massage with her as well. As you know I’m a Johnson’s Ambassador, and this month I am super happy to share a very personal peek into a big part of my life.
Benefits of massage
There are many benefits of infant and toddler massage, and they differ depending on where your baby is developmentally. The first and most obvious is that it provides a tranquil bonding time that can support healthy attachment and language development. The power of touch can give you a deeper connection with your baby and has been shown to improve eye contact and improve sleep quality when done at bedtime. It can relieve discomfort caused by gas and reflux, and helps stimulate the digestive, circulatory, immune and nervous system. Nurturing touch can also increase brain and muscular development.
You don’t need much for a massage session, but having a few things on hand will make the experience a lot more pleasant for both you and baby. First, I always like to use a soft blanket. They are going to be laying there for a good 10-15 minutes each session, so it’s nice for it to be cushy for them and for you. I also make sure to have some soothing music on or a movie they like so they don’t get too bored, and if we are doing it at bedtime then I make sure they have their jammies on and won’t have to get back up afterwards. When going through the massages the most important thing you will need is a good lotion or oil to help your hands run smoothly. When we first started out we were using oil, but Judah’s therapist suggested switching to a good baby lotion that had ample coverage and a pleasant smell so we started using JOHNSON’S reformulated baby lotion. Their new formula is hypoallergenic with no parabens or phthalates, and it has a super mild smell that we love! It’s also clinically proven to gently moisturize for 24 hours.
There are three main areas of massage that we focus on: Legs/feet, arms/hands and then the back. There are also the tummy region and face/head but those are not areas that we personally pay attention to so I won’t be including them here. I like to start with the feet and work my way up to the legs, then back and then finally arms. The order isn’t all that important, but our massage instructor told us that it’s best to follow a gradual and natural path up the body instead of switching around. There are many, many other techniques that are fabulous for different parts of the body and stages of development, but here’s a quick 15 minute massage that anyone can do for a quick relax & refresh! (Please note, these names might not be universal – these are what we learned from our therapists.)
Roll each toe: This is just what it sounds like – you start by holding the foot and rolling each toe between your fingers in turn. This motion helps create body awareness.
Thumb over thumb: With thumbs, stroke from the top of the toes down to the heel, alternating hands. This helps stimulate the feet.
Ankle rotation: Hold leg above the ankle, grasp the ball of the foot and make small circles with your thumb over the heel. This massages the heel and rotates the ankle at the same time. Great for circulation and joint flexibility.
Cuddle and glide: Make a “C” with your hands and move from ankle to hip. Do 5-10 strokes and reverse direction. This stimulates circulation, helps with joint flexibility and creates body awareness.
Back and forth: Hands move back and forth across the back – do this semi slowly and with a moderate amount of pressure. This helps stimulate the senses.
Small circles: With your fingers, make circular motions up and down the back. This helps to relax developing muscles.
Cuddle and glide: Make a “C” with hands, glide down from the shoulder. Repeat 10 times and change direction. This stimulates and tones.
Wiggle Waggle: “Rolling” the arm between your hands starting at the top and moving down. This helps with circulation.
Those are just a few of the many great massage techniques that can be done on both infants and toddlers. After a massage session it is important to let your child relax, which is why doing it at bedtime or after a bath is ideal. There are SO many more benefits to massage and sensory therapy that I haven’t listed here, but check out the infographic for more: