Thanks for your question and that’s a shame that you found the massage distressing, as it is meant to be a fun, pleasurable and enjoyable experience for all.
There are no hard and fast rules with infant massage and as your baby’s mum you know her better than anyone. You did the right thing to give up when you felt distressed as it obviously wasn’t helping any of you, and you will know when it is right to begin again.
You did mention that your baby enjoys tummy time, so a few gentle strokes on her back (with her clothes on at first), might be a good way to reintroduce massage.
And as for a longer massage, I’d do this at a time when you feel relaxed.
Make sure the room temperature is warm, you may like to play some relaxing music and dim the lights. Ensure you won’t be disturbed, by switching off your mobile, unplugging the phone and perhaps even put a note on your front door to say: Do not disturb – Mum and Bub sleeping!
One of the first things we do in infant massage is to ask our baby’s permission – this is because we want to make sure they are happy to be massaged and it also helps us to understand our baby’s body language and their cues.
After you ask permission, then take a moment to notice their response. Generally indications that your baby is happy to be massaged include:
• lying with open arms
• making eye contact
• laughing and cooing
• playful bouncing of arms and legs
• nuzzling towards you
Indications they are not keen to be massaged include:
- Persistent crying!
- Pushing or arching their back
- Arms moving in and out from the chest
- Avoiding eye contact
And as you continue the massage, keep watching for their signs. If they indicate they are tired, or no longer want a massage then stop, give your baby a hug and then put him or her back to bed for a nap or give your baby a feed.
If your baby doesn’t like to have her clothes off, then you can massage with her clothes on. Again, it is about responding to your baby’s desires. And by listening to your baby and doing what she is asking then this will empower her.
Good luck! Katie