At this age, a baby can already sit confidently, and his mental and intellectual development more often promotes baby’s movement in space and his interest in everything in his field of vision. And the baby tries to reach the objects, to touch them. About the middle of this age period crawling becomes relevant as a method of understanding the world and bay’s development. The 4-6 month old baby massage complex helps develop this much needed skill, as well as helps correctly form the lumbar curve of the spine, which will in the future play a great role in harmonious posture development and fixation.
Exercises in a supine position
Hand massage. At this age, to the arm massage by stroking and rubbing as described in the complex 1 (0-3 months) and complex 2 (2-4 months), kneading technique is added. Kneading is performed with one or two hands, slowly and deliberately.
Take your baby’s hand in such a way that his fingers enfold your thumb, and using your fingertips of the other hand perform deep spiral movements along the forearm and shoulder in the direction from the wrist to the body. Repeat 2-3 movements, massaging the whole surface of the hand (external, internal, lateral). Reduce the pressure on the inner surface for the skin in this area is highly sensitive.
Another technique actively used while massaging baby’s arms and legs at this age is twisting. To do this place your hands on baby’s forearm or shoulder, enfolding them with their palms. Perform displacement of the skin and underlying tissues in different directions without any intense pressure, gradually moving from the wrist to the shoulder. Perform 3-4 sets of twisting.
Kneading helps strengthen the muscle tissue, remove the accumulated products of muscle metabolism, stimulates the fiber growth.
Usually arms are stopped being massaged at about 5.5-6 months old, because at this age a baby actively uses his arm, and it is unnecessary to regulate muscle tone and strengthen muscles anymore because there is a heavy load on the hand muscles.
Crossing arms over the chest with extension. The exercise is described in the complex 2 but at this age it is a bit complicated because here is an element of joint exercises – slight shoulder joint stretching. Take the baby’s hands with your hands (place your thumb into the baby’s palm), put them apart and shake them. Cross baby’s hands over the chest and lift his body over the table, his arms crossed. Put baby on the table again, put his arms apart and gently pull them away from the chest. Make 2-3 repetitions at 4 months old, and gradually increase the number of repetitions to 6-8 at 7 months old.
Alternate arm straightening. Take your baby’s one arm and slightly lift his shoulder girdle over the table, then gently lower the baby back down on the table. Do the same with the other arm. You can perform 3-5 repetitions for each arm.
The exercise strengthens the joints of the arms, slightly stretches the ligaments, increasing thus the range of joint motion as well as strengthens the muscle fibers.
Stretching arm joints up and down. This exercise has an element of joint exercises for the shoulder joint. Take the baby’s wrist, place your two fingers of the other hand into his armpit, and gently pull the baby’s hand downward along the body while holding the shoulder girdle under his arm. Then put baby’s arm along his head and slightly stretch the arm up, holding his shoulder girdle with your other hand. Do the same with the other baby’s arm.
Physiological effect of this exercise is the same as of the previous one.
Kneading tummy. Kneading is added at this age. After stroking and rubbing described in complexes 1 and 2, place your fingertips on the lower right corner of baby’s tummy and perform spiral movements slightly kneading the anterior abdominal wall, moving clockwise around the navel. Move slowly and gently so as your baby do not feel displeasure. Perform 3-4 sets of movements.
Kneading helps strain and develop the abdominal muscles, which afterward in conjunction with other muscle groups will work while sitting, walking and help maintain the posture.
Twisting the thoracic and lumbar spine while supporting feet. Fix baby’s legs in a slightly bent position, holding them with one hand. Take your baby’s wrist or shoulder with the other hand, and gently roll him over on a side, keeping the legs on the table. Repeat the exercise to the other side. Perform 4-8 repetitions.
The exercise involves the work of almost all body muscle groups, helps develop the abdominal and back muscles, and gently stretches the spinal ligaments and large joints of the legs.
Sitting down while supporting both hands spread part and straightened. Holding your baby’s both forearms, straighten the elbow joints and spread arms to the side. Gently pulling baby to yourself, help your baby sit down. The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the abdominal muscles and develop vestibular system as well as the sitting down skill. Repeat the exercises 2-3 times.
Chest massage. Chest massage is completely described in the complex 2. At this age the number of performed movements is increased up to 2-3 times, so the massage takes a bit more time.
Swinging chest while holding pelvis (twisting the thoracic spine). Fix your baby’s pelvis with your one hand, gently pressing it to the table. Move your other hand under the upper chest and perform twisting of the thoracic spine to the side, remember to fix the pelvis. Range of motion should be short, toward the center.
The exercise helps to develop the spinal muscles and ligaments, the respiratory and intercostal muscles, activates the respiratory function in general.
Foot massage. Holding baby’s shin with your one hand, place your index and middle fingers of the other hand on the back of baby’s foot, and thumb on the foot. Perform massaging the foot by intense stroking the inner and outer edges, heel and the area above the toes (repeat 4-5 motions). While stroking, perform kneading the arch and phalangeal joints with the tip of your thumb. Do the same with the other foot.
The exercise strengthens the foot muscles, is a prevention of flat feet, trains baby’s muscles for the process of walking.
Simultaneous leg bending. Enfold the bottom of baby’s shins with your hands, bend his legs in the knee and pelvis joints and press the legs to his tummy. Perform 5-4 repetitions.
The exercise develops the joints and muscles of the legs, strengthens the ligaments of the lower limbs.
“Bicycle”. The well-known exercise is done by alternate legs bending. The exercise is performed as the previous one, but the difference is that the legs are being bent alternately – while one baby’s leg is bent, the other one is straightened. The physiological effect is the same.
Simultaneous legs lifting. Enfold your baby’s knees at the bottom. Raise his both legs at one time, bending them in the hip joints. Repeat this movement 3-5 times.
The exercise actively develops the hip joints. If your baby has hip joins disorders, perform this exercise only after consultation with your pediatrician!
Straightening legs downward. Having done the previous exercise, slightly stretch your baby’s legs downward while fixing his pelvis on the table. The purpose of this element of joint exercises is to develop and strengthen ligaments of legs and stretch the muscles.
Shaking legs. Having massaged legs, you must shake them. To do this, enfold baby’s shins and perform slight shaking motions from side to side and up and down. Duration of shaking is for about 1 minute.
Exercises in a prone position
Rolling over from back to tummy without supporting arms. At this age your baby will perform this well-known exercise on his own. To stimulate the rotation you can draw his attention using a toy or just softly and gently ask him to turn over, slightly pulling him up (in 4-5 months) by his hand. You can back up your words with a slight rotation of his pelvis and legs in the right or left direction.
Back massage by tapping. Tapping technique is added to the back massage described in the complexes 1 and 2. It is a slight tapping the back muscles with your relaxed fingertips. Tapping is performed after kneading by short jerky movements lasting for 0.5 – 1 minute. Having performed tapping, it is necessary to stroke baby’s back (repeat 2-3 movements).
Effective and gentle tapping tones the muscles and nerve endings of the back and chest, promotes better work of lung tissue, and has an analgesic effect. Remember not to tap in kidney area.
Buttock massage (slight pinches to tone muscles). Having performed the whole buttock massage described in the complexes 1 and 2, pinch your baby’s buttocks slightly with your fingers. Perform pinch (it should be broad so as your baby not to feel displeasure) in the direction from the sacrum upward and to the side. Repeat 2-3 movements. Your hand movements should be symmetrical . Perform stroking and acupressure at the end of the massage.
“Fish”. The exercise is described in the previous complex. The number of repetitions at this age can be increased to 3, holding your baby for 5-6 seconds. After about 6 months old the importance of its performance is reduced, although babies enjoy this exercise very much.
“Airplane”. Take your baby, placing your hands under his tummy and chest from the side, and raise him over the table. Hold him in this position for a few seconds. Gradually increase the number of repetitions from 1 to 5. The same exercise can be done in a supine position.
The exercise helps the vestibular system develop, strengthen the muscles of the back and tummy, and relax the muscles of the legs and arms.
The exercise trains the child for walking, strengthens leg and back muscles.
Rolling over from back to tummy. Repeat the rotation from back to tummy described above 3-4 times more.
Joint exercises. Elements of the joint exercises for the large joints were included in the previous exercises. At the end of this complex perform articular gymnastics for the rest of the joints as described in the massage complex 2. Gradually increase the number of movements, and always be careful.
Stroking legs. After intensive work with the muscles of legs it is necessary to calm your baby by slight stroking. Perform 3-4 sets of stroking for every leg.