We all know how good a relaxing massage can feel, but are massages good for babies? Yes, absolutely! Touch is the sense most fully developed at birth, so your baby will probably love the feel of a gentle massage (though it can take them a while to warm up to the idea, and that’s fine too).
What are the benefits of infant massage?
There are several benefits of infant massage. Baby massage can help your baby sleep, aid muscle development and motor skills, boost circulation, soothe any discomfort like gas or colic, and can calm a fussy baby. It’s also a great time to bond and can reduce your own stress levels, so it’s a win-win!
So how and when should you do it? Here are our top 10 things you need to know about infant massage. We’re pretty sure they’d thank us if they could!
1. How to do baby massage
If you’re wondering how to massage a baby, we’ve got you covered. Lay them down in a warm spot on a towel on a soft surface (like a change mat or bed), naked or in just their diaper. Start by running your fingers from the top of their head, down the sides of their face, chest, abdomen, and down their legs. If they squirm, cry, or just look uncomfortable, wrap it up for the day, and try again tomorrow.
2. When should you start massaging your baby?
You can start infant massage on day one if you want, although avoid massaging their tummy until their umbilical cord stump has fallen off and healed.
3. When do I give my baby a massage?
You want your baby in a happy and relaxed mood, so choosing a time when they’re not too sleepy is ideal. We don’t want any tummy rubbing to cause vomiting, so leaving it at least 45 minutes after their last feed or meal is a good idea!
4. How do you give a newborn a massage?
Gently! While you might like being pummelled to within an inch of your life, a soft touch is key for babies! Don’t forget how delicate their skin is, so be careful if your nails are sharp, or your hands are dry or rough too — it might be a good opportunity for your partner or a grandparent to get involved instead.
5. Should I use baby massage oil?
For newborns, it’s probably best to steer clear of using oils, as they can affect the skin’s natural balance. As they grow older, you may want to use an unscented natural oil, specifically designed for delicate young skin.
6. Baby massage for gas
Massage can be a great way to relieve baby gas. First, holding your baby’s feet and knees together, bend the knees upwards, towards their tummy. Rotate the legs gently to the right-hand side and back to the center point. Release their legs and lightly trace an oval shape on their abdomen in a clockwise direction.
7. Baby foot massage
Use your whole hand to stroke the sole of the foot from heel to toe. Uncurl and stroke each toe.
8. Baby head massage
Very lightly, trace tiny circles on your baby’s scalp, like you’re shampooing their hair, avoiding their fontanelle (soft spot). Trace a heart across their face with your thumbs, starting at the bridge of their nose, joining your thumbs together at their chin.
9. Baby back massage
Keep your baby’s arms in front of them, not down at their sides. With your fingers spread out, like a rake, stroke your baby’s back from shoulders to bottom.
10. Baby leg massage
Holding their foot in one hand, use the other hand to rub from thigh to ankle and back up again with gentle pressure, like you’re milking a cow. Repeat on the other side.
There you have it, mama - 10 tips for infant massage. Here’s hoping everyone is relaxed and gets a good night’s rest!