This 2-4 month old baby massage complex greatly helps baby’s back muscles develop, keep the formation of thoracic curvature of the spine, as well as develop proper baby’s posture while sitting. Although it is still difficult for a baby to sit, the proposed exercises promote active work of back muscles, as well as stimulate the baby’s vestibular system.
Exercises in a supine position
Arm massage. Perform stroking arms as described in the complex 1 (massage complex for the babies of 0-3 months old).
Since the increased tone of the flexor reflex in the arms almost disappears at this age, and baby’s movements become more coordinated, so rubbing is added to this complex.
Rubbing arms is performed by enfolding movement. Fix baby’s hand in your palm (baby’s fingers enfold your thumb), and holding baby’s forearm with your other hand (enfold it with your fingers), perform intensive (deeper than stroking) movements from the wrist to the elbow joint, placing the emphasis on the external surface of the baby’s hands (5-3 movements). Then perform such movements (5-3) on the shoulder. It is desirable that baby’s skin slightly flushed while being rubbed. Always stroke baby’s hand afterwards, perform 2-3 movements.
Rubbing increases blood flow in the skin and subcutaneous tissue, improves metabolism, promotes nutrition of muscles and connective tissue, stimulating the elasticity of the skin and flexibility of the joints.
Straightening arms by lifting the body up. Repeat 2-3 times. The exercise is described in the complex 1.
Straightening arms by crossing. Take the baby’s hands in your hands (put your thumb into the baby’s palm), put them apart and shake hands slightly. Then cross them over the baby’s chest and lift his body off the table with the crossed arms. Perform 2-3 repetitions. Be careful not to raise your baby too high and sharp, as the load on the shoulder joints in this exercise is significantly higher than in the complex 1.
Alternative straightening the arms. Take the baby’s one hand and gently lift him off the table, holding his other hand with your other half-bent hand. Then do the same with the other hand. At the beginning of the exercise (within the first two or three weeks), you can just straighten his muscles and joints of the hands and not lift your baby’s back off the table. Perform 2-3 repetitions for each arm.
Tummy massage. Abdominal massage begins with the use of strokes described in the complex 1. Perform 3-5 movements, then perform rubbing with the fingertips in a circular motion. Start rubbing from the lower right corner of the anterior abdominal wall and perform clockwise motion around the navel. The pressure intensity should be average. Repeat 5-6 times, and finish by stroking your baby’s tummy.
Abdominal muscles tension by bending. This exercise is described in a complex 1. It is performed the same way, but once your baby is 3.5 months old you can increase the range of motion so that at the end of the movement your baby will sit, leaning against your hands as slightly as possible.
Thoracic spine muscles are being developed this way, which are responsible for sitting and maintaining good posture. Also vestibular system is being developed as well as neural connections responsible for the ability to sit down and keep baby’s back while sitting.
Chest massage. Besides stroking, rubbing is added to the chest massage. Rubbing is performed by slight movements and kneading with the tips of your thumbs.
Stroke the chest with your fingertips in an upward direction, then to the side from the chest and to the back along the intercostal spaces. Repeat the movement 3-5 times.
Rubbing the intercostal spaces is also performed with your fingertips in the same direction like when you stroke (read “Chest massage“, complex 1), but the movements should be more intensive and rapid. At the age of 2.5 months old perform rubbing until the baby’s skin becomes slightly flushed – but no more than 8 movements (4 movements on the chest and 4 ones along the intercostal spaces). Gradually, the number of movements can be increased.
Kneading chest. Kneading baby’s chest is performed with the tips of your thumbs. Place the tips of your thumbs on the lower part of baby’s sternum, and gently pressing on the skin, massage the chest with the upward slow circular movements.
Kneading and rubbing the chest and sternum stimulate heart activity, breathing, development of the intercostal muscles and the pectoralis major muscle.
Breath deepening by squeezing lateral surfaces. This exercise is described in the complex 1, and is repeated up to 7 times. The exercises helps stimulate the respiratory movements, eliminate stagnation and increase the lung ventilation.
Exercises in a prone position
Rolling over from back to tummy. Take your baby’s hand with your one hand (your fingers in the baby’s palm). Hold his legs with your other hand, slightly straighten them, and rotate your baby’s pelvis a little. Baby automatically will move the whole body and the head after the pelvis, turning over on his side, and then on the stomach (here you should help him slightly pulling his hand). It is recommend to hold the baby in a lateral position for a few seconds for the neck muscles to develop and train. In this challenging exercise all the muscle groups are working and the vestibular system is being actively developed. Perform the movement to the other side the same way. Repeat 2-5 times on each side.
Back massage. Start massaging your baby’s back by stroking, repeat 6-7 times with the back of your hand, then perform rubbing. Rub with your fingertips moving along the spine. Repeat 3-4 times, and then perform three or four movements along the intercostal spaces in the direction from the spine to the sides and then to the chest.
Having performed rubbing, start kneading with the tips of your thumbs. Place the tips of thumbs on the lower part of baby’s back at the base of the sacrum. Perform spiral upward movements with your thumbs to the neck, slightly kneading underlying muscles and tissues in the direction up the spine. Repeat 2 movements from the sacrum up to the neck.
Acupressure massage of buttocks. Buttocks massage is similar to that described in the complex 1 with the rubbing added here. Rubbing is performed with the palm of your hands in a circular motion, from inner edge of gluteal folds up and to the side. Hand movements should be balanced, intense, with a slight pressure on the tissue. Acupressure is performed as described in the complex 1.
Reflex spinal extension in a lateral position. Baby lying on his side, hold his legs with one hand, and move two fingers of the other one with gentle pressure along the spine from the sacrum up to the neck. Your baby will immediately extend his back. Turn the baby over to the other side and do the same. Repeat 6-8 times.
Back muscles straightening (“Fish”). Exercise begins in a prone position. Enfold baby’s back of the right foot with your thumb and index finger, and enfold baby’s left leg with your other fingers of the same hand. Gently lift baby’s legs up simultaneously moving the other hand under the baby’s tummy. Having thus created a support, raise your baby over the table. Now he is lying on your palm leaning against it, his head and neck are straightened, back and chest muscles are actively working.
The exercise helps back muscles develop as well as vestibular system (sway your baby to and fro, from side to side), helps the muscles of the lower back, legs and chest strengthen.
Sliding step (reflex walking). Take your baby under his arms, put his feet on the table and imitate walking, just as it was done in the exercise “Reflex walking” in the complex 1, but moving your baby in the same forward direction as his legs are “walking”.
The exercise develops the muscles of the legs and feet, promotes the development of reflex walking, trains baby’s vestibular system to be in upright position.
Rolling over from back to tummy. Repeat this exercise several times more, as described at the beginning of this complex. Repeat 2-3 for times on each side.
Shaking arms and legs. Take your baby’s both wrists, put them up and shake hands several times. Do the same with the legs, holding the back of his feet.
Joint exercises are done with the elements of stretching while joints are maximum bent. Joint exercises are done the same way as described in the complex 1, but while bending, you should stretch joint a little by placing your finger in a fold.
Thus there is a gentle stretching of the joint space and ligaments of the joint, which are becoming more flexible as well as muscles surrounding the joint are being strengthened.
Stroking arms and legs. Having done all the exercises in the complex 2, be sure to perform soothing, stroking arms and legs, that will not only relieve extra tension from the limbs but also will calm the whole nervous system.