Tummy Massaging the tummy is a lovely way to help baby feel safe and secure as well as helping with tummy troubles such as colic and constipation. Tummy massagers are also great for encouraging your little one to feed more easily by stimulating production of ‘bonding hormones’ which reduce stress and increase a sense of security – which is especially important for premature babies.
Baby Massage is a lovely way to help baby feel safe and secure as well as helping with tummy troubles such as colic and constipation. Reach under the baby’s top and massage towards the spine in small clockwise circles. Be sure to alternate hands frequently so each arm gets its turn on the tummy! Many times, babies who are fussy due to gas or constipation will calm down when they feel your comforting touch.
Tummy massage is a gentle way of helping support baby by providing a focused time for bonding, helping with colic and constipation, and alleviating feelings of anxiety.
Baby Tummy Massage For Constipation
How does Baby Massage help?
♡ When babies cry or feed they can take in a lot of air. This air can become congested and stuck within the bowel. Once you have a few air bubbles in there they can form one large pocket of air that gives babies that uncomfortable hard tummy and tummy ache, characterised often by babies drawing their legs up towards their tummy to try and expel and move that air around. Our hands are trying to do the job of peristalsis, or the movement of food through babies bowel. So, mechanically we are moving air out of babies body with the massage strokes such as ‘I love you’ as demonstrated in the video.
♡ All babies have different development of the muscle in their gut wall that helps with the process of peristalsis. This may explain why some babies tend to suffer more from wind than others. When we massage we’re helping to bring all the blood to that muscle inside the gut wall, helping to bring nutrients and oxygen which it needs to strengthen and develop and therefore make the process of peristalsis more efficient.
♡ Massage helps to stimulate a main nerve called the ‘Vagus’ nerve which helps to control the rate of digestion. This nerve is not yet fully developed so with the massage we’re helping to encourage really good communication between the brain and the gut, so hopefully again, the process of peristalsis will be much smoother and much more efficient and therefore baby will get much less issues relating to wind becoming trapped within the tummy.
Before you start
♡ Imagine where the stomach and the intestines are on your babies tummy. Prepare to always be working in a clockwise direction. The main principles of tummy massage are to:
1. Move everything down.
2. Move everything towards the babies left hand side towards the end of the bowel.
♡ Please make sure you have waited around 45 minutes after your babies last feed to massage your babies tummy.
♡ Find a comfortable space on the floor, turn off the TV, your phone and feel free from any distractions.
♡ Feel confident that your baby is happy, well enough and ready to participate.
Practicing the strokes
♡ Make sure that you also feel happy and not stressed! Take a few deep breaths before you start. Shake out your arms and hands. Ask your baby if they would like a massage to soothe and relax them.
♡ Bring baby close to you so they can see you and feel safe.
♡ Use a sing-song voice with lots of encouragement and praise.
♡ Start slowly and gently on the tummy, see how babies tummy feels, it is hard or soft? If you feel you can, sink your fingers gradually in a little deeper. Always watch for babies signals to see if you need to stop.
When to practice and how often
♡ As a preventative to make sure those air bubbles aren’t having the opportunity to stick together and form those hard pockets of air – twice a day is very good if you can! This might be once in the morning (remember to leave 45 mins between feeds) and once in the afternoon. This will really help to get those air bubbles moving through the bowel as much as they possibly can throughout the day.
Essential oil use
If you feel you would like to and feel confident using Essential Oils, they can be very relieving for digestive issues and wonderfully supportive emotionally as well as physically. Essential oils must be used with caution, sparingly and never ingested.. Safe oils for babies are Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis and Mandarin Citrus reticulata. Lavender in particular is amazing for calming and relaxing.. Roman Chamomile for relieving stomach cramps and pain and Mandarin for ‘fractious babies’. Oils must always be very high quality and organic if possible. Here in the UK, I recommend Neals Yard to ensure safety and quality. Electric steam diffusers are also a fantastic way to diffuse the oils into a room safely. If you would like advice on essential oil use please consult a qualified aromatherapist.
Baby Massage for Constipation Nhs
Constipation is a condition where stools become firmer and harder. Your child will be troubled or in pain when they need to empty their bowels, and the bowels will not be emptied as often as usual. There are a number of conservative ways you can assist your child in treating constipation without having to resort to medications.
Massage your baby’s tummy
Massage can be used to help encourage your baby’s bowels to move. Before starting any massage on your baby:
- Ensure the room is warm enough (especially if removing your child’s clothing)
- Warm your hands by rubbing them together, or running them under some warm water for a few minutes
- Create a relaxing environment by performing massage in a comforting room with familiar surrounding, such as favourite toys or music to keep your baby as relaxed as possible
- Remain relaxed yourself
You can massage over clothing, but for tummy massage, we would recommend you use a little oil and massage directly on the skin. The warmth of the skin to skin contact can be very helpful for constipation as well.
Use baby oil or all natural vegetable or fruit based oil. Good choices that you may already have at home include: grape seed oil or olive oil. Put a small drop of oil in your hands, about the size of a coin, and rub together to warm. Show your baby what you are doing, this way they’ll start to associate the sight and sound with what comes next.
When doing these massage strokes, use a firm but gentle pressure. Always observe your baby to make sure they are comfortable with the massage. Feel free to try a lighter pressure or use a different stroke as you become more confident. Cease massage if your baby becomes agitated.
To massage your baby’s tummy, place warmed hands on their tummy at or below the belly button. This is a small area, but it’s important to target the bowel. Using flat palms gently stroke downward, using hand over hand, a paddling type motion. Next moving hands in a clockwise motion, (very important to move clockwise – if you go the wrong way, you’ll create more issues), stroke baby’s tummy in a circle.
Now try a 3-part stroke, easily remembered by the phrase “I Love You” . With baby laying on the floor facing you (remember clockwise motion):
- First trace the letter “I” on baby’s left side
- Next draw an “L” starting on baby’s right side, across the top of the tummy and down baby’s left side
- Then draw an upside-down “U”
- Finish on the tummy by stroking down a few times.
During tummy massage your baby may have a bowel movement or release some air – great! You may wish to leave their nappy off during the massage session. Babies like to have the freedom of movement they gain without a nappy, so if you decide to leave it off, just have something underneath in case of any accidents.
Move your baby’s legs in a cycling motion
If your baby does not tolerate massage well, there are other options available which can assist with the treatment of constipation. Try moving your baby’s legs in a cycling motion.
Place your baby so they are lying on their back. Hold their legs and turn them gently in a cycling motion. This will make the stomach muscles move and, in turn, put gentle pressure on the intestines to make them move.
Give your baby a bath
A warm bath can make your baby relax so the stools are passed more easily. Once your baby has relaxed in the bath, you can also massage their stomach.