Baby massage: benefits and techniques
Learn how to bond with your baby through baby massage. It can be used to calm and soothe your bub, too.
A gentle massage is a beautiful way to bond with your newborn. Not only does it make you feel closer to each other, but it also delivers a range of benefits for your baby – including less crying, better sleep, and lower levels of stress hormones.
In fact, massage has been found to help premature infants gain weight; and it is thought to have therapeutic effects for babies who are sick.
Communicate more than stimulate
Pre-verbal babies (and even verbal toddlers) communicate primarily through their bodies. Infant massage combines this tactile, kinesthetic and emotional stimulation in a gentle but purposeful way.
Remember, you’re not trying to manipulate her muscles – rather, you are communicating with her in a way that soothes you both.
Baby massage techniques
Try giving your baby a massage after they have had a sleep or a bath – this way, they are quiet, well-rested and alert. To get started:
- Rub some baby massage oil into your warm hands
- Gently rub your baby’s feet, from heel to toe
- Move to the legs, with slow, smooth strokes from her ankles to her hips
- Massage her chest, starting with your hands on her shoulders and making gentle strokes inward
- To massage her arms, start at the shoulders and stroke down towards her wrists (try not to get massage oil on her fingers, and if you do, wipe it off before she puts her hands in her mouth)
- Her tummy can be gently rubbed with circular, clockwise strokes
- If your baby is comfortable on her tummy, you can also massage her back with long smooth strokes
Take your cues from your baby
Your baby will let you know what feels good to her almost instantly. Watch for positive cues like eye contact, smiles, cooing sounds and relaxed movements with her arms and legs.
If she squirms away, arches her back, flails her arms and legs or cries, then you should stop massaging her. She’s telling you that she doesn’t like what you’re doing. When you try again another time, you could start in a different part of her body or use a different technique.