Baby Massage: What’s The Right Way To Do It?

Baby Massage: What’s The Right Way To Do It?

8 Mar 2022 | 7 min Read

Sudeshna Chakravarti

Author | 799 Articles

Massages offer several health benefits for babies. They aid in their overall development and also improve blood circulation. A study published in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics determined that massages can help calm colicky babies. 

Moreover, massages can help parents bond with their little ones, as they interact and communicate with them. Read on to know about the health benefits of baby massage and a few safe techniques to do so.

When Should You Start Giving Your Baby a Massage?

Although there are no set guidelines on the minimum age to start baby massage, there’s a general opinion that you must wait till your baby completes one month of their life before starting the massage. This is because a baby’s skin barrier is underdeveloped at birth, and takes around 15 days to become water-resistant.

Babies usually shed their umbilical cord stub after 15 days of age. And any oil trapped in it can lead to a serious infection. Therefore, it’s ideal to wait for one month before starting the massage, as by then, your baby’s skin would be less sensitive, and they would be more responsive to touch.

What Are the Benefits of Baby Massage?

There are multiple benefits that massage can provide to your baby, such as:

  1. Stimulating their Nervous System: Massage benefits your baby’s nervous system and greatly improves their motor skills development.
  1. Helps Improve Blood Circulation: Massage can improve blood circulation and also reduce discomfort caused by congestion, acidity, gas, and teething. Moreover, massage stimulates the nerves passing through the digestive tract, thus aiding the digestive system.
  1. Relaxes Muscles And Relieves Stress: Massages can stimulate the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, and decrease the level of cortisol, more commonly known as the stress hormone.

It relieves stress, relaxes muscles, and works particularly great on babies suffering from colic.

  1. Helps Your Baby Sleep Better: A lot of studies have suggested that massages can help babies sleep better. This is because infants who are massaged before bedtime, release a sleep-regulating hormone called melatonin.

Massage before bedtime also helps in faster muscle growth and improved immune function.

  1. Boosts Social And Psychological Development: According to a report published by the Asian Nursing Research Journal, stimulation of the baby’s sense of touch is beneficial for boosting their social and psychological development. It also strengthens the baby’s bond with the parents.
  1. It Helps Deal With Postnatal Depression: For mums, massages can be an effective way to deal with postnatal depression. Depressed mums have shown improved behaviour and mood when they massaged their newborns regularly. 

What Is the Best Time to Massage Your Baby?

Ideally, you should give your baby a massage before bath time

You can choose to fix a massage routine for your baby. Ensure that your baby is well-fed so that they don’t get fussy during massage time. However, it’s not advisable to give them a massage as soon as they are fed.

Usually, a massage before bath time is ideal, as it will help wash away the oil and prevent the accumulation of residual oil in your baby’s sensitive skin. It will also help your baby to relax and you can even tuck them for a nap quickly after the bath. 

What Oil Should You Choose?

It is recommended to always use an oil that is fragrance-free, designed with mild ingredients, and edible. This is to prevent any serious problem even if your baby ingests the oil by mistake.

You can consult your pediatrician to know more about what oil is suitable for your baby, and what ingredients you should look for while choosing a baby oil.

Setup for A Baby Massage

Before you give your baby a soothing massage, follow this setup process:

  • Sit On A Carpeted Floor Or Bed: Take a towel in front of you. Place your baby on the towel and give them a gentle massage. The towel will help absorb excess oil.
  • Choose a Proper Massage Oil: Pick an oil that is specifically designed for babies and has no fragrance, chemicals, or harsh ingredients.
  • Set A Comfortable Room Temperature: Ensure the room temperature is comfortable and has ample circulation of cool and fresh air.

How to Massage Your Baby The Right Way?

The right massage technique can help your baby relax

Here’s a step-by-step guide to massaging your baby the right way:

  1. Seek Their Permission: You can do this by taking some oil and rubbing it on your baby’s tummy and behind their ears. If they show a positive response, you can go ahead with the massage. However, if they cry or become fussy, it’s probably not the right time to massage them.
  1. Massage Their Legs: rub some oil on your palm and massage the baby’s soles. Use your palm to stroke the bottom and top of their feet. Then lightly massage each toe, right to the tip.

Lift their legs and make a gentle stroke on their ankle and slowly extend towards the thighs. You can end the massage by grasping their thighs lightly.

  1. Massage Their Arms: Arm massage is quite similar to that of the legs. Gently massage your baby’s wrists like you are putting a bangle. Then, hold your baby’s hands and make circular strokes on their palms. 

Move your strokes towards the upper and forearm. Massage gently in circular motions as if you are wringing a towel.

  1. Tummy and Chest Massage: Place both your hands at the centre of your baby’s chest and massage outwards from the body. Move on to their tummy and start stroking from the top of their belly. Avoid pressure and make circular clockwise strokes around the belly button. 
  1. Massage Their Face And Head: Place the tip of your index finger at the centre of your baby’s forehead and stroke along the outline of their face towards the chin. From there move towards the cheeks and massage in circular strokes.

After that, massage your baby’s scalp with the fingertips like you are shampooing their hair. Use gentle pressure from your fingertip. You can also massage their forehead by gently moving your fingers outwards from the centre of the forehead.

  1. Massaging Their Back: The last step is to massage their back. Place your baby on their tummy, with their hands on the front. Place your fingertips on their upper back and massage in clockwise circles.

Next, place your index finger on either side of their upper spine and move the fingers all the way to the buttocks. Repeat the strokes a few times and wash off the oil with a soothing bath.

Baby Massage Tips

Here are some tips that you should remember while massaging your baby:

  • Always be gentle. Don’t apply too much pressure on their bones and tissues, as they are still very delicate. Also, avoid massaging the genital and groin area.
  • Laugh and interact with your baby. This will help them remain interested in the activity and make them cooperative.
  • If your baby gets cranky during the massage, skip to the next step or pause completely. You can make an attempt to massage later when they are more receptive to touch.
  • Maintain a fixed massage schedule as this will help establish a routine.

Massage is a great way of enabling your baby to grow stronger and improving your bond with them. Maintain a schedule, follow the steps recommended, and consult your doctor in case of any queries.



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