Legs and Feet
The feet and legs are a great place to start your massage journey as it is one part of your baby’s body that is exposed and handled multiple times throughout the day and night. And it may be that you incorporate some massage each time you change their nappy/diaper.
Another reason for starting here is that your baby was born to walk and within 12-18 months they will be up and running around. So time spent massaging their legs and feet will help prepare them.
In fact, their foot will not be fully mature until their mid-teens. So even more reason to look after them. Here is an image of a babies foot and ankle at 3 months of age. The red lines divide the fore, mid and rear foot. Look at all that space! The mid foot (between the 2 red lines) takes the longest to develop and is why your baby has no arch. Their arch may not fully develop until after they have started school.
Their foot is also full of thousands of nerve receptors making them a vital sensory organ as your baby grows and develops. They need a variety of sensory input before they start standing and walking to ensure they step forward in confidence. Check out way to increase Sensory Input below.
And of course, touch is one form of sensory input, so pause each time you change your baby’s nappy and provide some nutritious input!
Until your baby is standing and moving their feet don’t actually need shoes. Of course, if it’s really cold when you’re going out a pair of socks or booties will do, but if you’re not putting anything on their hands then think twice. Their feet need to be free to sense their world and explore. Feet are also designed to move and articulate. If you look at the x-ray, where two or more bones meet they create a joint and joints are designed to create movement. Eventually your baby will have a feet like yours with 26 bones creating 33 joints in each foot. That’s a lot of movement potential!
- foot shaped – allowing room for their toes to spread
- flat – completely flat with no heel
- flexible & thin – to allow for all that movement and so they can feel the ground, and
- fit well – not too tight or loose, with ankle strap or heel cup so they stay on and like a second skin so they don’t even feel like they have anything on
As you massage your baby’s feet you may also notice their toes curling and stretching. These movements are a result of primitive reflexes. If you’d like to know more about these check ‘Foot Reflexes’ below.