Not only is massaging a lovely way of bonding with your baby, but it can also help relieve colic and induce better sleeping patterns. It may even enhance their intellectual development, motor skills, and immune system.
To help get you started, we have created a step-by-step guide on how to massage your baby:
What You Need to Massage Your Baby
- You can start massaging your baby as soon as they’re one month old. All you need is some baby oil and a towel or blanket.
- Choose a time when your baby’s alert but quiet, and leave at least 45 minutes after their last feed.
- Then, sit on the floor and use your legs to create a diamond shape by joining the soles of your feet.
- Drape the blanket over here and rest your baby’s head on your feet.
- At first, you may find your baby becomes irritable when you start trying to massage them, so start by gently stroking them from their head to their toes. You need to make sure they’ve given you their permission before you start!
- If they cry, try another area of their body, and if this still doesn’t work, try again another day.
- As you go along you’ll probably find that they start to respond better, which will allow you to move onto other areas of their body.
- Always do a patch test on your baby’s arm at least 24 hours before with the oil, just to make sure they don’t have an allergic reaction to it.
1 – Massaging Your Baby’s Legs
- Start with the baby’s feet, massaging the soles of them with some oil. Using your thumbs, massage up from their heels to their toes, before using your palm to stroke the bottom of their foot.
- Make slow circular motions around the bottom of each foot and then move to the toes. Lightly massage each toe to help stimulate their nerve endings – but be careful not to pull on them like you would during an adult massage.
- Next, lift up one of their legs and begin to stroke their ankle before moving steadily toward their thigh. Stroke from the foot to the thigh. (If your baby is really relaxed, you may be able to massage both their legs at the same time).
- End by using both your hands to grasp their thigh, stroking each hand in opposite directions right down to their foot – almost like you’re very gently wringing out a towel.
2 – Massaging Your Baby’s Arms
- Massaging the arms is similar to how you’ve approached the legs.
- Stroke the palms of their hands in circular motions before moving these strokes toward the fingers.
- Then massage the back of their hands using straight strokes that run from their fingers to their wrists.
- Massage the wrists using circular movements with your fingers.
- Now, move your strokes steadily up their forearm before moving onto the upper arm.
- Again, finish by doing the wringing-out-the-towel technique on both arms.
3 – Massaging Your Baby’s Chest
- Put both of your hands on your baby’s chest and use a gentle stroke to move each hand towards their sternum.
- From their sternum, create a heart shape by moving your hands to each of their shoulders and back down.
- Finish by creating a cross by moving your hands from each hip to the opposite shoulder and back again.
4 – Massaging Your Baby’s Tummy
- Place your hand just below their chest bone and use circular strokes to move across their belly – being careful not to place any pressure on this area.
- Move around their belly in a clockwise motion, avoiding their belly button at all times as this can be incredibly sensitive.
- Hold both their feet and knees together and gently move them towards their tummy. Rotate their hips a couple of times before putting their legs down. This can help release any gas.
5 – Massaging Your Baby’s Head and Face
- This part may be slightly challenging due to how much babies move, but as they get used to their massages they should start to relax a bit more.
- Start by stroking your index finger from the center of their forehead around the edge of their face toward the chin. Once there, move your finger to their cheeks and begin massaging these gently with soft circular motions. Repeat several times.
- Place your thumbs in between their eyebrows and move them outwards.
- Then, cradle your baby’s head in your hands (like you do when you’re shampooing their hair) and massage their scalp using your fingers. Don’t apply any further pressure while doing this.
6 – Massaging Your Baby’s Back
- Move the blanket to the floor and place your baby on their tummy in front of you, making sure their hands are in front of them, not at their sides.
- Place both of your hands on their back and move them back and forth (in different directions), moving from the bottom of their back to their neck.
- Massage either side of their spine using small circular motions created with your fingertips, moving down one side of their spine before going up the other. Don’t press directly on their spine.
- Use small circular motions to massage their shoulders.
- Use bigger circular motions to massage their buttocks.
- Create a rake with your fingers and stroke their back.
As you go along you may find you need to move these techniques around, or you may have to avoid certain areas altogether. However, by taking the time to massage your baby on a daily basis, you’ll get them used to it – so be prepared for your massages to last as long as 30 minutes!