…Abdomen, Chest, Shoulders and Arms

The trunk area of infants can be very sensitive. Before massaging the abdomen it is important to locate where the diaphragm is as you don’t want to press on the child’s diaphragm and make it hard for them to breathe. To locate the diaphragm use your index and forefinger pressed together and feel on the babies right side (on your left) for the last rib in the rib cage. Then using your fingers feel gentle across the babies abdomen as you draw an imaginary line across and below the rib cage (below the abdomen). This line will vary for different infants dependent on where their belly button is. The line /area below the abdomen could be below, on or just above the belly button. It is important you note and remember this line and do not go above it.

When massaging the abdomen area

Scooping/Water Wheel

With a gentle firmness place your flat hand with palm facing up and fingers together slowly glide your hand from below the abdomen to the bottom of the child’s tummy. Repeat this with each hand a few times.

Lower Case ‘n’

As you are facing your baby lying on their backs on the floor it is important to note that When you are facing your baby you need to think about movement as clockwise internally where the intestines ascend and come up and go across, below the ribcage across the transverse colon and descends down the colon. This is how substances move within the colon. Make sure when you message this area you go below the diaphragm line.

On both hands stick your index and forefinger together and fold your other fingers and thumb in. Stick your elbows out. It is important to stick your elbows out in an obvious manner when you do this entire movement as prevents your fingers from digging into the infant. Start with your left hand and stroke up from inside the hip bone and glide the two fingers straight up and stop when you reach the line below the diaphragm. Then do the same with your right hand using your index and forefinger. Then with your right hand continue across the line below the abdomen and then with your right hand and two fingers at right angles go descend down on the right side of the child’s body and stop inside the hipbone. One way that is easier to remember this stroke is ‘up, up, across and down’.

Permission for Chest Massage

Seeking permission from your baby is important even when they don’t have verbal language as we have discussed we can see other non-verbal cues or sounds from your infant to show if they are wanting or not wanting a massage. It is important for children to be encouraged and to learn to communicate their own needs. This is the start to building relationships of trust and respect between parent and child and this as a foundation for relationships as they grow older is the foundation for relationships they have later in life where they learn to vocalise their needs confidently and know they have the right to be heard. it is the beginning of child safety and protection also.

When doing the permission sequence you continue to maintain contact as you always do during massage by keeping part of your arm on your baby and adding on massage oil to your hand and rubbing between your hands. Your baby will hear this noise and become too used to the sound to know what you are doing. Show the baby your open and hands facing them and use short simple words such as ‘do you want a massage’ and repeat the same words every time you ask permission. This will help your baby to learn what this means more easily. Continue to monitor for yes or no signs throughout the chest massage to ensure you notice your infant asking you to stop.

When your hands are open over your child and you ask do you want a massage if their body language is open such as their hands are by their side then you can gently place your hands on your babies chest. Then watch to see what your infant does. If they keep their hands by their side then they are allowing you to massage then you can start the massage strokes as outlined below. If your child only holds one of your hands and so one hand is saying yes and the other is saying no then take the one saying no and don’t do the chest massage.

When you place your hands on your child’s chest if they put their hand/s on your chest then enjoy the moment of bonding and keep your hands still. Do not continue with a chest massage if the child has their hands on your hands or if they push or pull at your hands then move your hands away. You can then continue massage on another area. You can try the chest massage permission sequence another time. No pressure is needed if your child is not wanting to do the chest massage.

Butterfly Massage

With both hands flat place palms on the upper chest and fingers resting on the shoulders. Then gently glide the fingertips over the shoulders and down each side of the body at the same time until you reach the rib cage. then glide your fingers from the side of the body and the bottom of the rib cage and then follow the rib cage in an upside-down ‘V shape’ back up the chest until you reach the top and centre of the chest and then repeat this sequence.

Incorporation Stroke

Now it is time to complete an incorporation stroke and go from the top of the shoulders down the chest to the side of the hips and over the legs and to the tops of the feet (not going over the base of the feet) with hands flat and slightly moulded or cupped to the shape of the body as you go down.


Continuing to keep contact with your infant add oil to your hand and rub them together. Then rub them over your child’s arms with long strokes going down the arms.

Indian Massage

This is similar to the legs you are going to hold the infant’s right wrist with your left hand with a ‘C cup’ hold to support the infant’s arm to allow them to relax. Using a ‘C cup’ you are going to place your hands at the top of the arms and stroke the arm the palm of your hand moving down the back of the arm and then whilst holding the wrist now with your right hand you will glide your left palm and fingers in a ‘C cup over the top of the child’s arm to the base of the arm. Swapping arms alternatively with slow gentle movements.


Now using your hand’s flat place them on either side of the child’s arm at the top of the arm in a parallel position so they are facing down the child’s arm. then as you did with the leg roll the arm from side to side with your hands rocking in a back and form motion. Once both hands reach the base of the arm at the wrist. Take hold of the wrist with a ‘C cup’ and use your other hand to take hold with a ‘C cup’ at the top of the harm. Then whilst you are firmly and gently gripping the child’s arm at the top bring your other hand to the top of the arm to start the movement all over again. This technique is safe because your hands allow the infant’s arm to go in the same direction. As with the leg rolling this will also allow their bodies to jiggle just a little and so they may giggle whilst you do this technique. It is not safe if you allow different parts of the arm at the same time to go in different directions as you will twist the arm and this is not safe.

Circles on the Arm – Upper and Lower

Using your four fingers together and your thumb tucked in, use the pads of your fingers (not the direct tips of your fingers) and draw circles around the upper and lower arm on all the soft parts of the body. Don’t do circles on the base of the boney parts of the body such as the elbow.

Circles around the Wrist

Hold the infant’s lower arm with your ‘C cup’ hold to support the arm. Making a ‘C shape’ with your thumb and index finger draw large circles on either side of the wrist bones.

Hands and Finger Lines

Continuing to support the infant’s arm with your ‘C cup’ hold use your other hand’s thumb and index finger to draw lines on both sides of the hand and fingers at the same time.

Swedish Massage


Lymphatic Drainage


Now you can repeat all of these arm techniques on the opposite arm