How to Massage a Baby
How to get started with baby massage
There’s something comforting about the power of touch and for many of us, getting a massage is the ultimate indulgence. Massage can be hugely beneficial for babies as well. Not only is it a lovely way to connect with your little one, but it gives your baby a sense of trust and comfort.
Not sure where to start? Here are some tips on how to create a calming massage routine for your baby.
Why should you massage your baby?
There are many reasons why you should include infant massage in your baby’s routine. First of all, it’s a beautiful way to connect with your bub. Touch is one of the most developed senses at birth and by connecting through massage, you’re showing your baby that they’re nurtured and loved.
Baby massage has various health benefits including helping your baby to relax and maybe even sleep better. This might sound too good to be true, but massage can help reduce hormones associated with stress and can reduce crying . It can also aid your baby’s digestion , particularly helpful if they’ve recently started solids, as often babies suffer from constipation around this time. There is even some research which suggests a moderate pressure massage can help premature newborns develop and grow .
Baby massage is also an opportunity to moisturise your bub’s skin. Infant skin is thinner and more prone to dryness than adult skin. Using a baby massage oil like Cetaphil Baby Oil is an excellent option as it blends shea butter and vitamin E to gently moisturise their delicate skin.
How to get prepared for a baby massage
The first thing to consider is the best time of the day to give your baby a massage. Before or after they’ve eaten or when they’re tired is usually not ideal as they’re likely to be distracted and won’t enjoy it. Most parents find after a nap, a nappy change or a bath are good times for a massage.
Make sure the room is warm and lie your baby on a soft towel or a rug. Get everything you will need before you start including baby massage oil, a towel, a nappy and clothes. This way, you can quickly get them dressed afterwards. Remove your jewellery, then rub your hands with the oil to make sure they’re as warm as they can be.
What parts of the body should you massage?
There are no specific guidelines when it comes to infant massage but it’s important to notice what your baby enjoys and what they don’t. You could start at the feet and do long, gentle strokes from the heel to the toes . Move onto the legs, stroking from the feet up the legs (but avoid the genital area). Use a firm but gentle touch as you rub each of the body parts, including the feet, calves and thighs.
Then make your way up to the shoulders and arms and stroke in a downwards direction, then rub each of the body parts. You could even give their face and scalp a gentle massage. Use the tips of your fingers to stroke your bub’s forehead, scalp and move your fingers down the side of their face and over their cheeks.
If you and your baby are enjoying the massage, you could lie them on their tummies, then stroke downwards from their neck towards their feet. Make sure you keep an eye on their reactions as some babies don’t like lying on their stomach for too long.
Baby massage for constipation
If your baby has some gas or digestion issues, there are a few massages you can do to help them out. Use your hands to massage their belly in a clockwise direction. Use your finger to stroke down from your baby’s ribcage to their tummy.
What not to do when massaging your baby
Always keep an eye on their reactions and stop massaging whenever your baby seems tired of it. Some reactions to watch out for: if they start crying, tense up, grimace, or try to turn away from you.
Don’t try to attempt a baby massage if you aren’t feeling calm and happy. You want to make sure the massage is a pleasant experience that you both enjoy.
If you happen to see an allergic reaction from the moisturising oil, make sure you stop right away and consult with a GP. Cetaphil’s Baby Massage Oil is specifically formulated to be gentle enough for newborn and baby’s skin.
How long and how often should you massage your baby?
This is completely up to you. You can massage your baby for as little as a minute and go for as long as your baby is relaxed and happy.
If your bub doesn’t take to it straight away, don’t get discouraged. You might need to find different techniques that work for you both. In time, baby massage will hopefully become a much-loved part of your daily routine that you’ll both look forward to.
See our full range of Baby products specifically designed with little ones in mind, leaving their sensitive skin feeling nourished and soothed.