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Abdominal Massage

Setting: Massage should be performed at a time and in a place that is quiet and with little or no risk for interruptions. Consider what is calming for the child such as low lights and soft music. Silence phones and turn off the television and radio.

Timing: Choose a time of day that suits the child’s schedule and try to be consistent with it. Do an abdominal massage session at least one time or more per day. 

Preparing: Warm your hands before the massage session starts. Use warm water and rub them together.  If you use lotion or oil on your hands for the massage, warm the container for several minutes beforehand in a container of warm water. Test the warmth of the lotion or oil on yourself before using on your child. Put a small amount of lotion or oil onto your hands and rub your hands together before beginning the massage. 

Relaxation: Practice relaxation techniques outside of the massage such as talking about calm, soothing places and having the child practice deep breathing. To help your child relax before and during the massage session try talking in a soft, gentle voice to your child about calming places such as a beach, a mountain, or a meadow.  Include descriptions that would be seen or felt at those places such as a gentle breeze, the warm sun, and a butterfly. You may want to talk your child through relaxing each of his body parts such as his feet and legs, his bottom, his tummy, his arms, etc. Encourage the muscles to relax and be as soft as a marshmallow or cloud. Periodically remind your child to breathe in deeply and out slowly and at a regular pace.

Massage Technique: Always massage in a clockwise position as the intestine goes up on the child’s right side, then across the top of the stomach just above the belly button, and then down on the child’s left side. Each massage stroke may be started at the same location of the patients’ right lower stomach. Use the flat of your four fingers kept close together, this will allow the pressure to stay constant. Pressure should be applied light to medium. The pressure should not be so light as to be ticklish nor too deep to cause pain. If the patient experiences pain, stop.


The I Love You Abdominal Massage Method

  1. I - Starting on the child’s right side just below the natural curve in the waist, massage upward the letter I in one stroke repeatedly, from bottom to top. Do this 5-10 times at a slow, rhythmic pace.
  2. LOVE - Starting on the child’s right side just below the natural curve in the waist, massage a backwards capital L that goes from bottom to top and then across the abdomen. Do this 5-10 times, slow and rhythmically.
  3. YOU - Starting on the child’s right side just below the natural curve in the waist, massage an upside down U from the child’s right side, across the abdomen and down the left side. The U motion can be made repeatedly in several long strokes using one hand, or in repeated small strokes using both hands. Do this 5-10 times slow and steady. 
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 several times. The whole massage session should take a maximum of 10-15 minutes.


This information is not specific to your child, but provides general information. If you have any questions, call your clinic.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Last Reviewed Hematology/Oncology 5/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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