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5 Infant Massage Techniques to Alleviate Gas


Infant massage is a wonderful way to connect and bond with your baby. Not only that, but massaging your baby may also stimulate brain development and speed the myelination of his brain and nervous system.

I had the pleasure of taking a series of infant massage classes with doula and infant massage instructor Brigitte Arle, CD (DONA), CEIM, and one of her classes focused on encouraging digestion and gas elimination to ease the tummy troubles that may be keeping your little one up at night. Here are some of the techniques I learned for relieving colic and gas pain.

  1. Water Wheel - Place one hand under your baby's rib cage with the pinky side down and palm facing your baby's feet. Gently scoop your hand down his abdomen, stopping above his pelvis. Repeat the motion with your other hand, and continue alternating hands fluidly.
  2. Knees Up - Bring your baby's bent knees together toward his belly, taking care to provide support behind his knees with your index fingers. Gently press and bounce his knees into his tummy.
  3. Sun and Moon - Draw your right hand around your baby's belly in a clockwise full circle and let your left hand follow, drawing a partial clockwise circle.
  4. I Love You - Hold your index and middle finger together, like you're taking a Girl Scout oath. Gently press the pads of your index and middle finger down the left side of your baby's belly, from under the rib cage to the leg crease, like an "I". Then, starting on the left side of your baby's belly, drag your index and middle finger across to the right and then down, like an inverted "L". After that, starting at your baby's right leg crease, drag your fingers in the shape of an upside-down "U" over the bellybutton and all the way to the left leg crease.
  5. Thumbs to Sides - Hold your baby at the waist with both your thumbs in the center of his belly. Draw both thumbs out to the sides of his abdomen simultaneously.

Before you begin a massage, always check in with your baby and ask permission to massage him. If he's open and receptive to massage at that time, place a few drops of gentle, scent-free massage oil, such as organic sunflower oil, into your palms and rub your hands together near your baby's head. The sound of your palms rubbing will become a non-verbal cue that lets your baby know he'll be receiving a massage. Now rest your open hands on his belly and take several cleansing breaths to relax before you start.

Vimala McClure, founder of the International Association of Infant Massage and author of Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, recommends repeating what she refers to as "The Colic-Relief Routine" twice a day for at least two weeks. This routine involves doing the following in succession for six counts each: Water Wheel, followed by Knees Up, Sun and Moon, and, lastly, Knees Up again.

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