Baby Massage 101: The Why, When, and How?

Baby Massage 101: The Why, When, and How?


Having a baby is one of the best feelings in the world. Isn’t it unparalleled? You feel so cuddly and squishy around babies… and when you have one of your own, you just can’t get your hands off them. 

Amidst all the excitement and sleep deprivation, there’s one thing we couldn’t let you miss – Baby Massage. 

Why Baby Massage is Important

How do you feel when you get a massage? Doesn’t it feel utterly relaxing and relieving! It effortlessly and efficiently lightens up my state and loosens up my muscles. Massages on babies work very similarly. It has many benefits to offer other than just uplifting their moods. 

Benefits the Health, Promoting Better Sleep

A massage can be rewarding. When you massage your baby, you open their windows to physiological and psychological benefits. 

The swift action of massaging boosts blood circulation and nerve stimulation. This, in turn, enhances the baby’s gastrointestinal (digestive) functions, nervous system, motor skills development, and reduces the discomfort caused by teething, acidity, or congestion. It can especially help colic babies as it grants major relief to the baby. 

Moreover, massaging can also promote muscle growth and immune response; no wonder massaged babies produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone

Essentially, a good massage for your baby could gain you a few extra hours of sleep!

Could Treat a Mother’s Postpartum Depression

If you choose to massage your baby yourself, it could act as a great bonding time. Not only do you learn how to handle your baby better, but it also develops in you a sense of confidence and enhances your mood and behavior, as it’s been seen in many depressed mothers who massaged their sweeties regularly.

Furthermore, fathers massaging their babies are also believed to manifest improved self-esteem and promote a healthy relationship. 

When to Start Massaging Your Baby

Although you may start lightly massaging your baby as soon as they’re born, it’s still advised to wait a few weeks, say six weeks, before doing it properly. So, when you finally begin, you may want to take care of your baby’s mood patterns as you might now be fairly-versed with it. Massage them when they’re calm and alert. If you try to massage them when they’re finicky, they might try to move away from you and stiffen their body, making it difficult to massage. This is when massaging is typically not advised.

Also, don’t massage immediately after feeding as it may cause them to throw up. Wait at least an hour before, giving them enough time to digest the milk.

Now, if you’re wondering how often should you massage, the answer is up to you. You may massage them every day, once a week, or every other day. You could massage your baby during the day, or just before bedtime. Just pay attention to your baby’s patterns and you shall know the perfect time for your baby’s massage.

How to Massage a Baby

Until your baby is a month old (even older if premature), you aren’t recommended to use any oil or lotion to massage your baby. This is to keep the baby’s skin protected and avoid moisture loss. However, you may use your fingers to tap and rub the skin very gently without using anything. 

After a month, when you start proper (firm) massaging, take quality, natural baby oil or lotion to perform it. Also, as infants tend to put their fingers and feet in their mouths, parents generally prefer organic edible oils so there’s no potential harm.

Steps for Baby Massage

Massaging is indeed beneficial, but only when it’s done the right way! It’s better if you set a pattern and follow it for the best results. Typically, a baby massage lasts from 10 to 30 minutes; you know it’s time to stop when your baby stops enjoying the session (that simple, eh!).

First, Set up the Ambience

Just as you like it! Dim the lights, tone down the noise, turn on soft music and set an optimum temperature (23-28°C). This will help the baby to relax and after some time, turn into an unspoken announcement of massage time. 

Undress the Baby

Remove any clothing, especially the diaper – babies hate even the best of the brands! With this begins the relief. 

Start with Gentle Strokes

  1. Don’t right away start ‘rubbing’ the skin. Stroke airily. This massage session is supposed to be relaxing, don’t scare away the baby, please!
  2. You could start by massaging the legs first. Take some oil and gently rub it over the skin (rub as in soft massage, not scrub). Post this, you can lift the legs and make them ‘exercise’. Rotate the legs, lift the hips, press the knees up the abdomen, and rotate the hips to the right to relieve gas. This mini-workout sesh can keep your baby fit (#HomeWorkout!).
  3. Now, move on to the arms of the baby and go about it a similar way. Move the arms, cross, lift, and stretch. 
  4. Be careful while massaging the tummy, though. Move your fingers in a clockwise direction around the navel; don’t be too hard. And if you’re not sure about this part of the body, you’d better wait and learn the process from a professional or your pediatrician. (This could help)
  5. To massage the chest, move your fingers from the center toward the shoulders and similarly stroke the back as well while placing your baby horizontally on the surface and not putting much pressure. 
  6. While moving on towards the face, trace a heart beginning from the forehead moving down the chin. Use the magic of your fingertips to gently and carefully massage different parts like eyebrows, ears, cheeks, and jaw. 
  7. For the head, massage with your fingertips and palms just like you would shampoo them. Gentle, yet massage-like. 

Final Notes

  • Remember that massage strokes should be gentle, yet not ticklish. 
  • Learn before you start to massage your child – there’s plenty that could go right but enough to go wrong too.
  • Don’t over apply the oil (you can bathe them with water).
  • Talk to them as you go and you can be the best of friends. 
  • Maintain a schedule and be super punctual to give them healthy habits.

Finally, Happy Massaging and Parenting!