Massage, Step by StepThis plan is meant for healthy babies from over 2 weeks old to 18 months. If your baby is a preemie or has a medical problem, call your doctor first.
With your baby lying stomach down, start at his forehead and use your fingers to make a very slow stroking motion over the top of his head until you reach the nape of the neck.
Starting from the nape of the neck, slowly stroke across each shoulder with one hand, first to the right, then to the left.
Starting at the nape of the neck again, slowly stroke with both hands all the way down both sides of your baby's back, covering as large an area as possible. Be careful not to touch the spine.
Using both hands, slowly stroke down the back of each leg simultaneously, from the buttocks down to the feet, then back up again.
Slowly stroke down the back of each arm simultaneously, from the shoulder to the hand, then back up again.
With your baby on his back, gently bend his arm at the elbow and then straighten it; do this six times. Repeat with the opposite arm six times.
Gently bend his leg at the knee and then straighten it; do this six times. Repeat with the opposite leg six times, then flex and extend both legs six times, as if he were pedaling a tiny bicycle. Now you can -- shh -- put your baby to bed.
More Calming MovesFrom Maria Mathias, codirector of the International Institute of Infant Massage, in Albuquerque, New Mexico:
For a newborn:This simplified leg technique is especially enjoyed by infants before they can walk on their own. With your baby on her back, encircle the thigh with your entire hand, then gently slide your hand all the way down one leg. Now do the same thing with the other hand on the same leg. Continue "milking" the leg by alternating hands in this way for a few more strokes. Switch legs and begin the process over again.
For a baby who's irritable or overstimulated:While holding her foot with one hand, use the thumb pad of the other to press gently but firmly on the sole for a second or two -- then release. If this calms your baby, continue pressing and releasing a little longer, then switch feet and repeat.
For a gassy baby:Using just the pads of your fingers, gently and very slowly rub the tummy in a clockwise motion.
Royce Flippin, the author of Fit Again, writes about health for national magazines. This is his first feature for PARENTING.