Mom's Magic Massage

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Our youngest, Jake, was the world's worst teether. He once cried for 14 months straight. Poor Jake -- each new tooth came with a nasty head cold and usually an ear infection to go along with it. We maxed out acetaminophen and ibuprofen dosages, and went through tube after tube of numbing gel, but found little relief.

Jake was in so much discomfort, he often didn't even want to play. There were entire days when he only wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV.

One day, while watching an episode of "Barney," I happened upon something that seemed to help. The characters were singing "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes." Jake seemed interested and had actually stopped crying for a moment, so I touched Jake's head, shoulders, knees, and toes and sang along. The combination of singing and physical contact seemed to be a magic combination that distracted Jake from his teething pain.

At some point between my 500th and 600th rendition of the song that day, I remembered something I'd learned in my birthing class the year before. The instructor had told the expectant parents to use relaxation techniques to help manage pain. The more tension a person felt, she explained, the worse the pain would seem. She recommended relaxation techniques such as massage to help manage pain naturally and reduce the need for pain medication.

It had worked for me the year before when I gave birth to Jake, so I decided to try it on him. I sat Jake on the couch beside me and gently massaged his neck and shoulders. When I first started, I could actually feel the little knots in his muscles -- the same tension knots I had from listening to him cry and being unable to help. Once those knots were loosened, I massaged Jake's arms and legs, starting at the top of each and working my way out to his fingers and toes.

Within a few minutes, Jake was relaxed enough to play. Maybe it was just the relief I felt at seeing Jake feel better, but as I returned to this technique time and time again, I also found that the act of giving a gentle baby massage almost as relaxing as getting a massage myself!

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