Baby massage: When to start, how to do it and Benefits

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Massaging a baby has many benefits and it is also a great way to increase the bond between parents and baby. A baby massage is a process of gently stroking on the baby’s body using an oil or lotion suitable for them.

A good massage can not only soothe them and also help them to relieve from colic, develops their immune system, increases blood circulation and also helps in getting better sleep. It is an important part of newborn baby care.

When to start Baby massage

Their is no particular guidelines as when to start massaging your baby. But there is a general opinion that babies should be massaged only after The umbilical cord falls off and navel area heals completely.

The reason for this is that if some oil gets trapped around the cord it can be infectious and can bring the baby to a whole new risk. For premature babies, you must ask your doctor when to start massaging your baby.

Best time to Massage a baby

You can choose any time of the day to massage your little one be it morning or evening. The best time to give him massage is when he/she is not hungry, sleepy or tired. To be more specific you can give you a good massage before bathing him. Massaging before the bath is ideal as you can wash away the excess oil and lotion accumulated on baby’s sensitive skin.

Massaging helps to build a daily routine for you and your baby. It is an efficient way of maintaining the baby’s routine of Bathing feeding and sleeping.

Massaging during the nights is also a great idea as it helps babies to sleep peacefully and increase their bedtime.

Which is the best oil for baby massage?

According to NCT UK it is recommended to use oil for massage only after the baby has turned 1 month old. This is because the skin of newborn is very thin and sensitive. But over the 1st month the skin matures and develops their own protective barrier.

According to Healthline parenthood you can choose from a variety of oils that are safe on baby’s sensitive skin. Some of them are:-

  • Coconut oil– Applying virgin coconut oil helps babies to improve and strengthen their skin. Moreover, it can work as a massage oil and moisturizers for both newborn and older babies
  • Almond oil– rich in vitamin E almond oil is safe on babies skin is proved from the clinical research of 2020. Researchers found that Almond oil has no side effect on babies skin and it also helps in strengthening baby’s skin
  • Shea Butter– Shea butter is a natural moisturiser that is used for baby massage. It is safe for soft and sensitive skin. While looking for shea butter look for one that has no added perfumes and chemicals
  • Jojoba Oil– Jojoba oil is recommended for babies having eczema and helps in healing skin. Make sure to buy cold-pressed jojoba oil while looking it for your baby. It is also very rich in vitamin E.

How to massage a baby

There are no specific steps to massage a baby. But before massaging a baby here are some things that you need to prepare before massaging:-

Preperation before massage

These preperations need to be done before massaging a baby. The following preperations are as follows

  • Sit on a bed or a soft carpet floor with a towel with you. The towel helps to absorb the excess oil on baby’s skin. You can also keep the towel on the table and ca massage your little one while standing
  • Maintain suffucient lighting in the room and allow natural light in the room as much as you can
  • Maintain room temperature– Babies are weak and it is difficult for them to cope with the suuden change in temperature. During winters make sure that the room is warm and during sumer make sure that there is sufficient circulation of cool air.

As you are done with the preperation now lets see how to massage a baby in a right way. Here is a step by step guide.

Step 1: See your baby’s mood

The first step is to know your baby’s mood since you cannot massage if your baby is not interested. You can know your baby’s mood simply by putting some drops of oil on his palms and rubbing them. If he reacts positively its a signal that you can start massaging your baby.

Initially your baby will resist and feel uncomfortable while massaging as it is a whole new experiance. But as they get used to it they will surely enjoy it.

Step 2: Leg and feet massage

Baby massage

Start massaging your newborn baby from the legs first. Put some drops of oil on baby’s palm and start rubbing them gently. With your thumb massage the heels up to the toes. With your finger make circular motions on the heels and then to the thumb. Lightly and gently massage the tip of the toes.

Lift one leg of the baby and massage him with gentle strokes from ankle upto the thighs. If your baby is calm and relaxed you can also massage both legs at once.

While massaging your infant never pull your his toe or foot as they do for adult.

Step 3: Massaging the Arms

newborn baby massage

The next step after massaging the legs is to massage the arms. The massage of the arms is quite similar to massaging the legs. Rub some drops of oil on baby’s palm and massage in a circular motion and make gentle strokes on his fingers from down to up.

Now lifting the baby’s hand gently massage the back of the hands with gentle strokes towards the wrist. Now in a circular motion massage the wrist as if you are wearing an ornament. While massaging move the strokes upwards slowly to the forearm and then to the upper arm.

End the arms by massaging the entire arm with a gentle circular motions.

Step 4: Chest and shoulder massage

Now make gentle strokes from the left and right shoulder to the chest of the baby. Repeat this moment a few more time and make sure that the strokes are gentle and soft.

Now place your hands on the centre of the chest and gently push them out to the sides as if you are smoothing the pages of an open book or tracing the heart. Make sure that you do the chest massage softly and gently

Step 5: Tummy Massage

Massage foe baby

Tummy or belly is one of the most delicate parts of the baby’s body and requires more care while doing newborn baby massage. And that’s why it is recommended to not put any pressure on baby’s tummy.

Start massaging baby’s tummy right from the top of the belly just below the chest bone. Make circular clockwise motions on the baby’s belly without putting any pressure. just glide your hand on his belly.

While making circular motions pay attention to the belly button/navel area in younger babies because this area is sensitive as the umbilical stump has fallen recently.

Step 6: Colic relief

After the belly massage, the next comes the massage for colic relief. Fold your baby’s knee up to the tummy applying gentle pressure for approximately 25 seconds. You can repeat this few more times. Now Massage the tummy in a downward motion below the navel area to release gas.

This step of massage for baby will provide relief to the infant suffering from Gas and colic.

Step 7: Head and face massage

Massaging the face and head can be challenging as babies tend to move a lot. But as other parts of the body face and the head is equally important and cannot be skipped during the newborn baby massage.

  • To massage baby’s head put some drops of oil on his head and apply gentle strokes to spread the oil on the head. Do not apply to much pressure as the skull of babies are soft and delicate. Also, pay attention to the soft spot of the baby’s head. Now with your fingertips massage the scalp of the baby as if you are shampooing him.
  • To massage, your baby’s face applies some few drops of oil on his face and massage with your fingers. With your finger massage his face from the forehead towards the skin. Apply gentle strokes to the cheeks chin and nose of the baby.

Step 8: Back massage for Baby

Baby back massage

For the back, massage turns your baby around and make him lie on the tummy. With both your hands start massaging the back right from the base of the neck towards the buttocks. Apply back and forth movements a few times while the back.

Apply gentle pressure and make circular motions on the baby’s spine. Massage the shoulder blades with soft clockwise strokes and similarly repeat this step for lower back and buttocks. End the baby massage with this last stroke.

Benefits of baby massage

Massaging a newborn baby proves very beneficial to them. Massaging not only improves the bond between the baby and parents but also has many benefits. Some of them are

1. It is good for baby’s health

A massage provides many benefits to a baby. Massaging a newborn baby helps improving blood circulation, relieve baby from Gas constipation and colic. It also helps in strengthing bones and muscles

2. Helps in cough and congestion

Massage also help the babies suffering from cough, congestion and cold. To massage the baby suffering from cough here are the steps to follow:-

Massage the baby’s chest to relieve him from cough. Rub the baby’s chest in a circular motion from centre to outside using oil or lotion. Also, rub the palms of the hands. this makes their hands warm soothing the baby as you rub

After the chest and hands rub the soles of the feet. Massaging the soles produces heat which will eventually help in loosening the mucus and provide relief to the baby

3. Strengthens the bond

Massaging is one of the effective way to strengthen the bond with your baby as while massaging you will spend more lovely moments with him. It also helps mother to understand the needs of their babies.

4. Provide relief to the babies

A massage is a great way of providing relief to the baby from Gas, Colic and various stomach related problems. It also provides relief from vaccination pain.

Tips for massaging a baby

Here are some quick tips that proves helpful for parents while massaging their little one:-

  • Maintain a fixed time for massaging a baby. This will help them develop their daily routine due to which they feel comfortable during the massage.
  • When done wipe of the excess oil with a soft towel or tissue specially fingers and palms. This is to prevent him from ingesting the oil when they put their fingers in mouth. Always use 100% safe baby oil for massaging a baby
  • Always be gentle during massage If at any point of time your baby feels irritated leeave that part immidiately. If the baby is still irritated delay the whole process. You can start massaging after some time when baby is calm and is receptive to touch.
  • Always be gentle while massaging your little one. Do not put any pressure as the bones and muscles of babies are very delicate and can get damaged easily.
  • Talk laugh and smile while massaging your little one. Try more to engage them by cooing singing songs. When baby looks at you maintain an eye contact with him. This will develop and strengthen a bond between your and your little one. This also keeps the baby interested in the activity.

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