Foot massage is a kind of massage which should be given a significant attention to. During your baby’s first year of life foot massage affects not only his physical development in the most positive way but also:
– strengthens his locomotor system;
– prepares the child for walking;
– boosts blood circulation;
– enhances muscle tone;
– prevents flat feet;
– prevents diseases of internal organs and boosts immune system by massaging reflexology points on the feet.
Baby feet are somewhat different from ours; they have certain special features. Their bones are still soft and muscles weak. During the first few years of your baby’s life, his feet are absolutely flat because his foot arch cavity is still filled with a thick layer of fat tissue. A pediatrician or a nurse-masseur will help you determine how your baby’s feet develop.
Unfortunately, there are lots of babies with issues like flat feet or pigeon toe. There are various factors that cause these feet development defects but more often than not you can lessen or even prevent them.
Goals of baby foot massage
— Up to 3 months: decreasing the high tone of the flexor muscles.
— 3-4 months: balancing the toning of the flexor and extensor muscles.
— 6 months: strengthening muscles with the help of passive movements.
— 6-12 months: aiding motor coordination and preparing the baby for walking.
Baby foot massage techniques
Up to 3 months
Foot massage is good for any baby and usually, it’s recommended that you start massaging your baby’s feet as soon as your baby turns 1,5-2 months old.
Massaging baby feet is easy: it only involves tender stroking. To do this right, support your baby’s lower leg with your left hand and trace a figure eight with your thumb on his foot.
2 to 4 months
It’s better to start massage with tapping your baby’s foot, pressing your finger on it just a little bit. The method of tapping is effective and pleasant to your baby. It significantly boosts the his blood circulation and affects his heart function positively. Calm, soothing stroking is the best way to end the massage session which should last about 1-2 minutes.
5 to 7 months
Gradually start introducing some new massaging techniques like kneading or vibration. After stroking your baby’s feet gently for a little bit, rub and tap the entire foot carefully with your fingers. This will make the blood circulation better. Massage session lasts for 5 minutes.
8 to 12 months
At this age, your baby’s feet are a little stronger and he shows the desire to sit still and play with his toys. You can use the time when your baby is in a sitting position to his own benefit and massage his feet by stroking and kneading them gently. Don’t massage the tiny feet only; do the lower legs and thighs too. Also, give a gentle twiddle to every little toe, clockwise and counterclockwise.
When massaging your baby’s feet, keep in mind that you can’t do it right before your baby goes to sleep (massage may cause nervous excitement and your baby will have a hard time falling asleep). Massage should always be pleasant and enjoyable both to you and your baby. For this, make sure that your baby is well fed (do the massage an hour after he had his meal) and well rested.
Baby foot massage tips
1. In case your baby cries and acts up during the massage, there’s something you do wrong. You would better stop massaging his feet, help him calm down and continue afterwards. Don’t forget to distract your baby: sing, talk to him, turn on some nice music.
2. Doctors don’t recommend using any special massage lotions or oils when massaging your baby’s feet. Lubricants will decrease both your hands’ sensitivity and the therapeutic benefit. If your baby’s foot is too greasy you may find it hard to feel when it’s better to go more gently or slow down and when you have to apply more effort. Besides, various oils, creams, and lotions bridge the pores and cause hyperthermia.
3. Your hands must be clean, warm and rid of any pieces of jewelry. Keep your nails short. Your baby’s room should be well aired. In the colder time of the year, it’s better to massage your baby closer to the source of warmth.
4. Massage your baby’s feet only with your hands and fingers.
5. Before starting the massage, try it out on yourself to check the intensity of effort.
6. The absence of any pain is a must during the massage.
7. Use the gentlest massaging movements in the beginning and at the end of your massage session. They help to establish a contact with your baby’s body and help to relax his muscles.
8. You can do the rubbing only after your baby’s feet are warmed enough by stroking.
9. Flex and extend your baby’s feet by applying gentle pressure to the entire surface of your baby’s foot with the palm of your hand. This helps to form the foot arch.
10. Duration of massage sessions depends on your baby’s age. At 2 months it should last no more than a minute while at 12 months you may spend 5 to 7 minutes to massage your baby’s feet.
How often do you have to do the foot massage?
It’s recommended to do the foot massage on a daily basis unless there are any contraindications. The procedure itself shouldn’t last too long; just 2 to 5 minutes. However, even these short massage sessions will help you to avoid muscle toning issues and let you strengthen your baby’s immune system. What’s more, the more often you stimulate the somatosensory area of your baby’s brain the faster he develops.
Make sure you do the massage in a calm and peaceful atmosphere when your child is well fed and happy. Don’t do it right after your baby had his meal or when he’s hungry. To help your child sleep soundly, do the massage at least two hours before he goes to sleep.
Sometimes young moms ask why they have to do the foot massage if their baby’s development progresses normally. The answer is simple: the foot massage is not only for correcting defects and treating issues. It’s also a preventive remedy against flat feet and other locomotor system issues. Besides, it makes your baby’s blood circulation better which is a great benefit.
Mommy’s gentle hands can make all the troubles and ailments go away. The massage done by the dearest person will bring much more than health — the joy of communication and mutual understanding will also be there.