Small digestive systems sometimes need some support to keep things running. If your baby’s tummy is a little stuffy, you can alleviate this discomfort by giving them a massage for constipation.
With all the breast milk or infant formula that your toddler consumes, you would assume that pooping comfortably and very often would not be a problem. But constipation is surprisingly common in children of all ages.
In babies, the challenging part is that they do not have the vocabulary to communicate how they feel. You may just notice that they look uncomfortable or have pain when trying to urinate.
If you suspect your little one is constipated, keep reading for all our tips to help them with their stomach problems.
But let’s first talk about how effective baby massage can be at solving stomach problems.
How does a baby massage help with constipation?
Releases air that is stuck in the stomach
It’s no secret that babies cry and eat … a lot! And when they do these activities, they can take in excess air when they open their mouths. Sometimes this air does not penetrate out of the body, but instead gets stuck in the intestines.
Over time, these small air bubbles can form one large air pocket that causes discomfort, and a baby’s tummy can end up being hard or sore as a result.
With a baby massage, you can use your hands to gently move this built-up air out of the digestive tract so your little one can find relief and feel like himself again.
Helps with digestion rate
In addition to air bubbles, there are other things that can affect small stomachs. For example, the vagus nerve – the nerve that helps control the rate of digestion – is not fully developed in infants. This means that regular digestion can be a challenge.
By gently rubbing your baby’s abdomen, you can help stimulate the nerve and relieve constipation and air bubbles.
Strengthens the muscles in the intestinal wall
Since babies are all unique, the development of muscles in their intestinal walls will naturally be different. This is why some little ones experience more constipation and problems with air bubbles than others.
By massaging your baby’s tummy, you increase blood flow to the intestinal wall. This type of massage can allow more nutrients and oxygen to flood the area and also strengthen the wall. All of this stimulation can mean less constipation for your little one (and less stress for you).
Baby massage also has many other great benefits, including:
- Helps them sleep better
- Improving muscle tone
- Encouraging focus
- Improving the immune system
Now that we understand how a baby massage for constipation can work and why it is beneficial, let’s focus on how to prepare for it.
How to prepare for massage
Choose the right time
It is extremely important to choose the right time for a massage. For example, you will not give massage for constipation just before or after feeding as it may lead to vomiting.
So when is the right time? About 45 minutes after your little one has eaten is usually the best option. But you can also do it right after a bath or during playtime when your baby is nicely relaxed.
Our Gentle Cleansing Gel is one of our favorite products for use on delicate baby skin at bath time. This special formula cleanses and soothes skin and hair while ensuring that the skin’s natural oils remain intact.
Create a relaxing environment
Before you start your massage, you also want to make your little one cozy.
Here are a few tips to help:
- Set the room to the right temperature.
- Play lullabies or other soothing music.
- Dim the light in the room or close your curtains or blinds to block sunlight.
- Select a known location.
- Place stuffed animals or other toys they love nearby.
- Turn off your TV, phone, or other distractions.
Choose the right oils
While you can leave your little one’s clothes on during a constipation massage, if you decide to take their clothes off, consider using baby oil while giving them a massage.
But not just any oil. Some “baby oils” contain harmful chemicals and are not safe to use on small ones. Be sure to check the label for any irritating ingredients, such as phenoxyethanol, and choose natural products, such as our baby oil.
Composed of 99% natural ingredients, it is safe to use on babies and soothes their delicate skin. It is also packed with avocado oil, pomegranate seed oil and sunflower oil to leave your baby’s skin well nourished and hydrated after each application.
Another great natural option besides a baby safe oil is our Melting Massage Balm. Made with 100% natural ingredients that are good for your baby and the environment, this specially formulated conditioner moisturizes the skin while providing a stimulating experience.
You can also use our EWG Verified Soothing Moisturizing Body Lotion for very sensitive skin. It provides instant hydration and is perfect for babies with a tendency to rash, or who have very reactive skin.
With all this in mind, let’s move on to discuss the best massage techniques to help your baby with constipation.
5 ways to give your baby a massage for constipation
1) Toes to nose
To use this technique, start by placing your little one’s feet together.
Then gently back their feet against their nose (or as far as possible) and then return their feet to the starting position. Repeat this movement three to five times.
This is an excellent method to move stubborn bubbles in the stomach and help with constipation.
2) Stomach spirals
Start by rubbing a little baby oil in your hands to warm it up. Then gently place your index finger near your little one’s navel and move it clockwise in small circles, out to the side or edge of the abdomen.
After performing this movement a few times with one finger, move on to two fingers, then three fingers, and so on until you have your entire palm to make the same movement.
Professional tip: Always remember to move your fingers clockwise for this technique. This is important because the movement clockwise follows your toddler’s digestive line.
3) Thumb circles
Rub some massage oil on your hands and hold your little one’s feet up (with their upper half still lying down). In this position, massage their soles and their palms by moving their thumbs in a circular motion.
This is a soothing technique and can soothe your baby’s digestive system. Doing this while eating can also help your little one swallow less air and in turn prevent air pockets from building up inside their digestive tracts.
This massage technique can be performed while your little one is fully clothed.
Start by laying your baby on its back. Then grab their legs and use them to move their hips gently from side to side while keeping their top half on the floor. Do this movement five to ten times.
This movement helps push the digestive system in different directions and releases any built-up air bubbles or discomfort from constipation.
5) 3-part stroke
The 3-part line is a way to track “ILU” sweetly on your little one’s body while relieving constipation.
Simply rub some massage oil into your hands, then use your fingers to write the letter “I” on the left side of your little one (just below their arm) three to five times. Next, trace the letter “L” in this place three to five times as well.
Repeat the same letters on their right side.
To see the “U”, start by drawing an “I” on their right side, cross your little one’s belly and finish with an “I” on the left side.
You can also use this massage technique to trace the full letters (I, L and U) alone on the abdomen. By using this fluid movement, you can help move trapped air out of the intestines and relieve constipation pain.
Help your baby feel better
Constipation can be uncomfortable, especially for little ones who do not yet have the vocabulary to express themselves or the tools to relieve it on their own. But by giving your baby a massage for constipation, you can help them feel better in no time!
Now that you know the tips and techniques of this article, you can safely come to the aid of your baby the next time you see the giant to pee or show signs of discomfort.
While giving your baby massage, remember to use safe, healthy and moisturizing oils, such as our baby oil, to nourish their delicate skin and stimulate blood flow to all the right places.
While constipation in infants can be common, a little rocking, twisting and gentle massage can make these stomach problems go away in no time!