The purpose of this this 0-3 month old baby massage complex is first of all to train baby’s body for different movements, reduce high tone of flexor muscles of hands and feet, as well as the active development of cervical spine, strengthening the upper thoracic spine muscles and shoulder girdle. Stroking the flexor surfaces of the arms and legs, as well as various stretching and articular exercises are widely used in this massage complex for baby’s muscles to relax.
Exercises in a supine position
Stroking arms. Baby’s wrist in your hand (always put your thumb into the baby’s palm). Using your fingertips of the other hand perform slow stroking movements from the wrist to the shoulder along the inner and outer side of the hand. Perform 2-3 sets of movements on each surface.
This exercise relaxes the hand muscles, normalizes tone and helps to soothe your baby before the further exercises.
Straightening arms by lifting the body up. Take the baby’s both wrists (baby’s fingers are enfolding your thumbs), lift your baby up off the table carefully and a few centimeters high. If the baby’s grip is weakening or he is looking at you anxiously, you must immediately put him down. Perform 7-8 movements per minute.
The exercise stretches muscles and joints of the hands, helps muscles of the shoulder girdle and cervical spine strengthen, and also speeds up the development of the cervical spine bending.
Tummy massage. Perform clockwise circular stroking from the lower right corner of the anterior abdominal wall. Perform wide circular movements around the navel, hardly pressing the tummy.
Cross stroking is performed from a standing position, baby is standing face to you at his feet. Initial position of hands: your right hand is on the top of the left half of the baby’s tummy, back of your left hand is on the lower part of the baby’s tummy. Stroke simultaneously the left and right halves of the baby’s tummy – your one hand moves down, and the back of your other hand moves up. Repeat 4-5 times.
Stroke the side surfaces starting from the lumbar part in two directions: to the sternum and to the pubic area. Place your fingertips on the side surfaces and perform stroking movements. The fingers are put together at the end of the sternum, above the navel, and in the pubic area. Perform 3-4 sets of such movements.
Stroking helps abdominal muscles become stronger, helps muscles train for the further sitting and standing skills, is effective as a soothing technique and is often performed when a baby has abdominal distention, constipation and painful gas (perform circular stroking in this case).
Abdominal muscles tension by bending. Put your thumbs under your baby’s arms, but carefully support his neck and head with the other fingers. Lean baby’s feet against your tummy. Gently raise your hands up in an upright position (set your elbows against the table) and slowly lower the baby on his back. Repeat the exercise 4-5 times, and stop before your baby gets tired and distracted. During the exercise make sure that your baby strains his abdominal muscles
The exercise trains baby’s muscle for sitting, actively develops muscles of the abdomen and the chest, strengthens the spinal flexors and develops the hip joints and buttock muscles.
Chest massage. Stroke baby’s chest with your fingertips upward, and at the top move your fingertips along the bottom of the clavicle toward an armpit. Repeat 5-6 times. Stroke the chest down and sideways along the ribs, repeat 4-6 times. In the early babyhood stroking is performed with two fingers, and as the baby grows up more fingers are being involved.
The exercise stimulates the development of chest and intercostal muscles, strengthens the chest and contributes to a better and proper breathing.
Deepening of breath (chest squeezing). After the massage enfold the baby’s chest with your palms and slightly press the chest performing upward fast and rhythmic movements. Perform 3-4 movements. These movements cause a reflex deep breath and help eliminate congestion in the lungs, as well as increase ventilation
Feet massage. Holding baby’s shin with one hand, place your index and middle fingers of another hand on the dorsum of the foot. Perform foot massage with your thumb by intensive stroking of the inner and outer edges of a foot, heel and the base of the toes. Perform 4-5 sets.
The exercise strengthens the feet muscles and it is a good prevention of flatfeet.
Reflex feet movements (bending and unbending). Reflex movements are widely used while massaging babies and doing gymnastics, up to the fading of the relevant inherent reflexes. These are active movements, which quickly and effectively develop certain muscle groups.
Enfold baby’s shin with one hand and sharply press the baby’s foot at the base of the toes with your other hand. This leads to the foot bending (toes bending). Then quickly, sharply and firmly pressing move along the outer edge of the foot from the little toe toward the heel. In response to this irritation your baby will reflexively unbend his foot. Do 2 sets of 4-6 repetitions.
The exercise actively develops muscles of feet and shins, prevents the development of flat feet and foot deformities in later childhood or later in life.
Exercises in a prone position
Placing baby on her tummy. This exercise, like the previous one, is based on the reflex protective and defensive movements. At an early age, the baby when placed on his tummy (as well as when his body position is changed) is trying to balance himself and therefore turns his head to the side opposite of his body. The exercise is very simple: place your baby on his tummy and let him lie in this position for a few seconds. Watch your baby’s hips spread and the hands resting against his forearms.
The exercise develops the cervical and thoracic spine, strengthens back muscles, and promotes the correct and timely development of the cervical spine. Like the abdominal massage, this exercise can be done apart from gymnastic complexes. Do it every time before you feed your baby.
Back massage. Stroke your baby’s back with the back of both hands from the buttocks toward the head along the spinal column. Place your baby on his tummy, place back of your hand on the sacral region and move your hand toward the baby’s head. Turn your hand over and move your palm to the starting position. Stroking with the back of the hand is quite rough, so control the force of impact, for your baby not to feel displeasure. Repeat the movement 7-8 times.
The exercise stimulates the spinal muscles and flexors, and trains the back for the further exercises.
Reflex spinal extension. The exercise is based on the inherent skin-spinal reflex. To do the exercise, place your baby on his side. Hold the baby’s legs with one hand, and perform an upward movement with two fingers of another hand slightly pressing along the spine from the sacrum toward the neck. The baby will immediately straighten his back. Turn the baby over on the other side and do the same. At the start repeat the movement 2 times on each side, and gradually increase to 6-8 times
This exercise actively develops the back muscles, especially back extensors, promotes good posture and strengthens spinal ligaments. The exercise can be done several times a day, apart from the gymnastics complex, while changing linen and performing other hygiene procedures.
Acupressure massage of buttocks. Massage of the buttocks is performed in a prone position. Place your fingertips (later in childhood use a whole palm) at the inner edge of gluteal folds. Perform circular stroking upward and to the side, slightly pressing the baby’s skin. Repeat 5-6 times. Then place your hands on the baby’s buttocks and perform upward gentle and careful pressure. Repeat 2-3 times. Perform acupressure by gently pressing your thumbs (10-12 times) below the center of the buttocks. While doing this carefully, watch over the baby’s mood for a rough movement can cause a negative reaction.
Stroking the buttocks strengthens muscles and helps decrease high muscle tone, trains the baby’s muscles for sitting. Acupressure improves conductivity in the nerves of the lower limb, tones muscles and ligaments as well as stimulates blood circulation.
Massage of legs. At this age it is performed by stroking. Enfold baby’s leg with one hand and perform stroking movements from the foot upward the buttock with fingertips or the whole palm, with a special emphasis on the back and side surfaces of the leg. Repeat 7-8 times with each leg. You can also perform this stroking movement enfolding the baby’s leg with your thumb and the index fingers.
The exercise decreases the high tone of the flexors, increases blood circulation in the skin and the subcutaneous tissue, stimulates locomotor activity and sensitivity of the lower extremities.
Reflex crawling. Place your baby on his tummy, spread his knees apart and put his feet together. Enfold baby’s shins but do not touch the feet. Then touch the feet with your thumbs. In response to your actions baby will stretch his legs and push himself forward. Remember that your hands should be fixed on the table otherwise your baby will not perform forward movement. Repeat such movements 2-3 times and increase them gradually to 7-8 times
The exercise actively helps the muscles of the legs and of the lower back strengthen and develop, prepare baby for crawling, develop vestibular system.
The exercise develops the vestibular system, elongates the spinal ligaments and paravertebral muscles, gently stretches the muscles of the legs, and decreases muscle tone of the legs, as well as teaches the baby to keep upright.
Reflex walking. Take your baby under his arms and lift him over the table so that he touches the surface with his feet. Every time baby’s feet touch the surface of the table will step reflexively. If you slightly bend your baby forward, he will “go.” Doing the exercise, try not to squeeze his chest, hold the baby suspended with the baby’s feet on the table. Exercise can be done as toward you so away from you. Finish the exercise before your baby feels discontent or fatigued.
Spinal rolling. Place your baby on his back, bend his arms and legs, keeping them at the abdomen level with one hand. The baby will be in his favorite fetal position. The other hand should support his neck and head. Holding hands and feet, carefully and gently swing the baby from side to side, to and fro and around.
Repeat 2-3 movements in each direction.
The exercise develops the ligaments of the back and the vestibular system, strengthens extensor muscles, promotes the proper formation of thoracic curvature of the spine.
Shaking hands. After the active exercises it is necessary to relax the baby and his nervous system by shaking. Place your baby on his back, enfold his wrists (your thumbs should be in his palms), extend his arms to the side and gently shake them. If the baby resists this action (it is possible when a flexor tone is high), then before doing the exercise repeat stroking hands to take the pressure off.
This is the main complex used under the age of 3 months. While doing these exercises you can add your own exercises and movements. Try not to make a common mistake of many parents: if your baby can not do an exercise now, do not stop doing it at all. Repeat this exercise after a week or two. Do the exercises focusing on those that make your baby feel bright positive emotions (you can do them with lots of repetitions), but remember that you have to do all the exercises.
Also read about the next group of exercises for a 2-4 months old baby.