Do you want to try baby massage at home but you’re not sure where to start? It’s a great activity that allows you to use a gentle touch and loving contact to bond with your baby. And you don’t even need special equipment! There are, however, certain things you need to know in order to massage your baby correctly.
So we’ve put together this guide to help you do just that. We’ll show you all the benefits of baby massage, when to start and what to use. As well as preparation tips. And how to massage different parts of your baby’s body using different moves and techniques.
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Table of contents
What Are the Benefits Of Baby Massage?
There are so many benefits to trying baby massage at home. Here are just some of the ways it’ll help both you and your little one.
- Strengthens your bond and builds a positive relationship
- Helps you to have a better understanding of your baby’s behaviour
- Relaxes and calms your baby
- Gets them ready for sleep
- Relieves teething pain
- Eases constipation and trapped wind
- Improves muscle tone
- Helps their immune system and the reproduction of white blood cells
When Should I Start Massaging My Baby?
It’s best to start baby massage at home when your newborn is around 1 month old or older. Their skin will have a stronger barrier at this age. Their umbilical cord stub will have fallen off and healed. And they’ll be more responsive to touch.
Then, by 3 months old you’ll see your baby start to enjoy this caring routine.
What Can I Use to Massage My Baby?
There are lots of different baby massage oils and creams you can buy for your little one. But natural oils, such as coconut oil, are often the best to use because your baby’s skin is sensitive. This organic coconut oil on Amazon is ideal (US | UK). You can also use sunflower oil. But olive oil is not recommended.
Preparing For Massage
Preparing the room beforehand will help you successfully massage your baby at home. Timing will also help too.
Preparing the Room
Preparing the room before you massage your baby, doesn’t mean you have to spend loads of time setting up. But ultimately, you want to make sure you’ve prepared the following:
- A cosy, warm room with soft lighting
- Somewhere soft and comfortable for your baby to lay
- Massage oil or cream
- A nappy and your baby’s clothes
- Calming music (optional)
Timing is key when trying baby massage at home. You want to make sure they’re not overtired (rubbing eyes, yawning, turning their head away). And that they haven’t fed. Always wait at least 45 minutes after a feed. Massaging them before this could make them sick.
Do You Massage a Baby Before Or After A Bath?
It’s best to try baby massage at home after your baby has had their night time bath. The bath will have already calmed them and it gives the cream or oil a chance to moisturise their skin overnight. Once you’ve massaged your baby, give them their night time bottle. Because massaging them on a full stomach could cause discomfort.
How to Do Baby Massage At Home
Follow these simple steps to start baby massage at home.
- Lay your baby on a towel or mat
- Remove their clothes
- Either undo their nappy or take it off completely
- Rub the oil into your hands first to warm it up
- Try a simple routine where you massage your baby’s legs and feet first. Then move onto their chest and tummy. Massage the arms after. And finish by using different strokes and techniques to massage their back.
- Repeat the same strokes a few times
- Stop if your baby seems uncomfortable or starts to cry
- Massage your baby for 15 minutes or less
Try to aim for your baby’s massage routine to be less than 15 minutes. Going over this time will lead to overstimulation and they’ll fuss and cry.
Whilst projector lights and music may seem calming to us, they encourage your baby to use lots of their senses. They’ll be looking at the lights, listening to the music and feeling you massage them. This can also lead to overstimulation. So try using one or the other during baby massage at home.
Baby Massage Techniques For The Whole Body
Here are some different moves you can use when trying baby massage at home. They all use gentle strokes and squeezing that are calming for your baby.
Baby Massage Techniques For Legs
Use your first few fingers and stroke up the inside of your baby’s leg. Then stroke over the top of their thigh, then down the outside of their leg. Finish by going over their ankle. Then repeat the process again. Do this a few times, then move onto the other leg.
Want to learn more about this technique? Watch this video and follow along.
Once you’ve massaged your baby’s legs, move on to their feet.
Baby Massage and Reflexology Techniques For Your Little One’s Feet
Hold your baby’s foot in one hand. And use either your index finger or thumb to do these massages.
Focus on your baby’s heel and move your finger around in a circular motion.
Now use your finger to make a spiral in the centre of the sole of their foot. Finally, take your thumb and stroke from your baby’s heel, up to the bottom of their toes.
Chest and Tummy Massage Strokes
Place both hands at the top of your baby’s chest. And move them right the way out to your baby’s armpits.
Place one hand across your baby’s chest and stroke down towards their nappy. When it reaches the bottom, take your other hand and do the same. Make this stroke a continuous movement.
Using 2 or 3 fingers, start at the edge of your baby’s belly button. Make slow clockwise circles around the belly button. Then gradually make the circles bigger.
This next stoke is the popular ‘I love you’ technqiue. Start on the right side of their tummy, near the nappy area.. Use your thumb and stroke up towards their ribs saying ‘I’. Then move your thumb across their tummy saying ‘love’. Finally, bring your thumb back to the where you started and make an upside-down u, saying ‘you’. Your thumb should come just below their ribs and finish at the bottom left side near their nappy.
Want more help with using the ‘I love you’ baby massage technique? Watch this video and follow along.
Baby Massage Techniques For the Arms
Place both hands on your baby’s chest with your fingers pointing upwards. Then move both hands across their shoulders and down the outside of their arms. When you reach their hands, give their palms a few little squeezes.
Next, start at their wrist and use two fingers to stroke up the inside of their arm. When you reach their shoulder, move your fingers over it and then stroke down the outside. This is the same technique we used on their legs.
Massage Strokes For Your Baby’s Back
Use both of your hands and make circles around your baby’s shoulders.
Place one hand on your baby’s bottom. Then place your other hand at the top of their back. And use it to swoop down to their bottom.
What Age Should I Stop Massaging My Baby?
People of all ages find massages calming and relaxing. And there’s no set age to stop massaging your baby. But you’ll probably find that your little one isn’t interested when they start moving around more. They’ll get to the stage when they’re more interested in crawling rather than laying down.
The good news is that you can always try it with them again when they’re a bit older. They’ll understand more and be able to communicate what they like and when they’ve had enough.
We did baby massage at home most nights until my baby was 7 months old. We stopped at this age because he was wriggling and moving around too much during the massage. But we’ve recently started it again now he’s 20 months old. And he loves it! He can’t wait to get out of the bath most nights. And he runs to his room saying ‘mas mas’ (massage). It’s a lovely way to end the day.
Baby massage at home is a great way to relax your baby after a bath and before bed. It can make a massive difference to their sleep. And it helps you to strengthen your bond with your little one.
Don’t forget to use a gentle massage to calm them when they’re teething. Or suffering from reflux, wind or constipation.
Always be gentle. And remember to watch your baby and take notice of their cues during a massage. Stop straight away if they start to fuss or cry.