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The Ultimate Guide To Baby Massage

baby massage

Table of Contents

Baby massage is a wonderful way to communicate with your baby before they are able to understand language.

It allows you to nurture your baby, encourages bonding, and can help to relieve various bodily pains.

In this ultimate guide to baby massage, we will cover:

  • What are the benefits of baby massage?
  • When can I start?
  • What do I need?
  • How to fit baby massage into your routine
  • Tips for baby massage
  • How to do baby massage

Read on for all of the information you could ever need about baby massage!

What are the benefits of baby massage?

It goes without saying that baby massage is a wonderful way to shower your infant with love and nurture. But what are the other, less obvious, benefits of baby massage?

Bonding

Spending time massaging your baby is a great way to promote bonding – especially for dads! When mom is breastfeeding, it can be easy for dads to feel a little lost in what their role is – massage offers a great solution.

Relaxation

A massage, for anyone, is a great way to wind down after a busy day. And though baby’s lives might not be so busy, they’re sure to have had a lot of visits (or FaceTime calls!). A gentle massage at the end of the day will help your baby to relax and wind down, ready for a night of sleep.

Reduce crying

Through eye contact and physical touch, baby’s feel a sense of safety and comfort. This makes massage a helpful tool if your baby is agitated or irritable. Though don’t persevere with the massage if they continue to be upset!

Positively affect hormones

Through the physical touch that comes with massage, you can positively affect your baby’s stress hormones to leave them feeling more relaxed.

Aiding digestion

If your baby has trouble digesting or is suffering from gas, a gentle massage on the belly may relieve their discomfort. (Keep reading for more information on how to safely massage the belly!)

Soothing teething pain

Believe it or not, giving your baby a foot massage can help to relieve teething pain! There are pressure points on the feet which, when massaged or pressed, are thought to soothe pain in the gums. Find out more about reflexology for baby’s here.

When can I start baby massage?

There are no specific guidelines for the best time to start baby massage, but it’s generally advised that you wait for a few weeks after birth to perform a full-body massage.

Soothing touch, however, can be started immediately after birth. Whether this is gently patting your baby’s back or softly stroking their arms and legs. A caring touch leads to bonding, secure attachment, and comfort.

When you do eventually start to massage your baby, be sure to follow their mood. If they’re feeling particularly cranky or irritable it’s best to leave it until they are feeling more alert and content. It’s also worth noting that it’s important to wait until 45 minutes after your baby has fed to give them a massage, otherwise it could cause them to vomit.

What do I need for baby massage?

Luckily, all you really need is your hands!

A little baby or coconut oil can, however, make the process a bit more comfortable for both you and baby. Warm a little oil in your hands before applying to your baby’s skin. And be sure to do a patch test before covering their body in a product that they could be allergic to.

You might also want to have a warm blanket or towel that you can use to cover a part of your baby’s body whilst you’re massaging a different area (for example, you might like to cover their entire body apart from the leg that you’re massaging). This is to ensure that your baby stays comfortable and doesn’t get too cold!

How to fit baby massage into your routine

Allocating space for baby massage in your routine is one of the best ways to stick to the practice and allow your baby to get used to it.

The best time to massage your baby is during their bedtime routine. Using massage before bed is also a wonderful way to show your baby that it’s time to start winding down.

You might like to massage your baby after their bath and before the bedtime feed. During this time you could consider listening to some soothing music, dimming the lights, and singing to your baby!

Tips for success

Here are some things to consider when massaging your baby.

Keep the room warm

A chilly room is one of the fastest ways to make for one very unhappy baby. You might like to heat a smaller room – such as the bathroom – so that your baby stays warm. If heating the room is inconvenient, you can keep your baby semi-dressed or covered with a blanket instead.

Maintain eye contact

The first few times that you try massaging your baby you might find that your little one seems a bit apprehensive. Maintaining eye contact with your baby and talking to them will reassure them that they are safe and let them know that it’s an experience to be enjoyed!

Start slow

Start every massage slowly so that your baby can begin to understand what’s going on and respond to let you know whether they’re happy. Begin with gentle touch, starting at the baby’s head and slowly moving all the way down to their feet. If your baby is enjoying it, follow our step-by-step guide to baby massage (below).

Talk or sing

Communicate with your baby throughout the massage to keep them relaxed. You might like to repeat their name, sing their favorite song, or tell them a story. Make sure that there are no distractions during this time and that your focus is completely on your baby.

Oil or no oil?

Using oil can reduce friction and make the experience more comfortable, it’s also an easy way to hydrate dry skin.

When using any kind of oil or baby product during the massage, be sure to do a patch test 24 hours before!

Turn off the overhead lights

This might seem obvious, but it’s also easily forgotten! You can bet that your baby is going to be uncomfortable and a little grouchy if they’re laying on their back looking at an overhead light. Try instead to use a couple of dim lamps or nightlights, it’s better for your baby’s eyes and will also help to create a cozy, sleepy atmosphere.

How to do baby massage

A step-by-step guide for massaging your baby from head to foot.

  1. Choose a time when your baby is alert and hasn’t eaten for at least 45 minutes.
  2. Ensure that the room is warm or that you have towels and blankets available to cover your baby with.
  3. Find a comfortable position for both of you – you might like to sit on the best or floor with your baby lying in front of you.
  4. Loosen or remove your baby’s nappy to make massaging their tummy more accessible.
  5. Let your baby know that it’s massage time by asking if you can give them a massage – though this might feel a bit strange at first, your baby will quickly learn that this question indicates massage time!

The legs

  1. Gently hold one of your baby’s legs, then securely hold their ankle in one hand. With the other hand, clasp the top of their leg and slide your hand all the way down to their ankle. Switch hands and repeat, before doing the same on the other side.
  2. Take your baby’s foot and massage their sole with your thumbs, starting from the heel of the foot and ‘walking’ your thumbs slowly up to the ball of their foot. After this, walk your thumbs across the middle of their sole from one side of their foot to the other. Repeat on the other side.
  3. Gently tug each toe between your thumb and forefinger.

The arms

  1. Move to your baby’s arms once you’ve ensured that their legs are warm by covering them with a blanket or towel.
  2. Similarly to massaging the legs, hold your baby’s wrist in one hand whilst using the other to clasp their arm just under the armpit before sliding your hand all the way down to their wrist. Take each finger and gently pull it using your thumb and forefinger. Before repeating on the other side, you might like to give your baby’s hands a massage by drawing small circles in the center of their palm.

The torso

  1. Bring your hands into a prayer position above your baby’s chest. Then open the hands slowly as you gently slide them towards the outside of your baby’s wrist. You can repeat this movement a few times! After this, gently take one hand and slide it slowly from the top of your baby’s chest to the top of their thighs.
  2. Massaging the belly can be a great way to aid digestion and release uncomfortable gas – but you’ll need to be very gentle with this area and pay close attention to your baby to make sure that they are enjoying it. Use two fingers to make small, circular motions in a clockwise direction.
  3. The back can be a love/hate area for babies. Though it feels wonderful, not many baby’s enjoy being on their bellies. If your baby is happy to lay on their belly, use your fingertips to make small circles on either side of their spine.
  4. Finish off with a few long and firm strokes starting from the shoulders and finishing at the feet.

If your baby really enjoyed their massage and looks like they would like it to continue, you can repeat it as many times as you like! Either spend extra time on their favorite spots or go through each step of the massage again from start to finish.

Wrap your baby up in some warm pajamas and get ready for a night (or 30 minutes…) of sleep!

The takeaway

Start slow, don’t push it if your baby is not happy, and enjoy the special time that you get to spend bonding with your baby!

When your baby is ready, why not consider moving onto baby yoga.

Read the article Everything You Need To Know About Baby Yoga

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