Baby Massage Techniques
Baby massage is essentially the gentle rhythmical stroking of different parts of your baby’s body. It should relax them and is a lovely way for you to bond with your baby. It can also be helpful in relieving tummy pains caused by gas. It is one of the recommended activities in our 0-3 months Busy Brains Activity Packs.
Try to make eye contact as much as you can and remember to talk or sing whilst you are massaging. Some babies do not like being massaged or are simply not in the mood - follow their lead and stop if they cry or fall asleep. Try again another time or in a few days. At no point should you feel as though you are forcing your baby's body to move - if they offer resistance, at any point, then move on to the next part of the massage.
Current advice is you should not use massage oils on children less than one month as their skin is very sensitive. If you wish to use a massage oil when your baby is older than 1 month then ensure it is specially designed for infants and won’t cause irritation should they accidentally rub it in their eyes.
Before you start, warm your hands – your baby won't want cold hands touching them! Once you’re ready, start by laying your infant on their back. They should be laying on a thick towel or soft blanket so they are warm and comfortable. Turn off any strong overhead lights - some babies enjoy watching soft colour changing lights during a massage.
First, look them in the eye and talk to your baby about what you are going to do. Gently stroke their face. Use one or two fingers to draw imaginary lines along their cheekbones from their nose to their ears, then from their ears to their chin. Move your fingertips across their forehead and around their eyes. Next, trace your fingers across their top lip and back round under their bottom lip.
Next, with 'pitter-patter' fingertips touch your baby all over their chest from their left shoulder, under their chin, to their right shoulder and then down to the bottom of their rib cage. Using flat hands move upwards from the ribcage to the shoulders and out onto the arms.
Stroke your baby’s arms in a downward direction
and move them so they stretch out wide. Repeat
with the gliding movement but this time move
your baby’s arms above their heads. Then, take
one of their hands in yours and make gentle
circular rotations on their palm with your thumbs.
Repeat on the other side.
Afterwards, come down to your baby’s tummy. Always move in a clockwise direction as it aids digestion. Using two fingers draw a small circle around their belly button. Gradually increase the size of the circle and the amount of your hand that you are massaging with so that you eventually have the palm of your hand moving in a clockwise direction from their rib cage to the sides of the abdomen and back round again.
Now draw attention to their legs. They might like a blanket or towel to cover their tummy and arms at this point. Taking each leg in turn gently hold each leg in both hands and stroke down the whole length to the foot. Repeat several times in a hand-over-hand style. Massage the calf and thigh by using one or two fingers and creating little spirals up the leg and then glide back down. Next, gently bend the knees up onto the tummy a few times. Do not force anything – all movements should only be with your baby’s permission.
Finally, massage the feet. Take each foot in turn and using the
hand-over-hand technique again stroke the length of the foot to
the toes. Take each toe in turn and give them a little wiggle. Use
small circles and your thumb massage the underside of the foot
and finally end the massage by rotating the ankles one way and
then the other.