Baby massage is a wonderful way to bond with baby and offers lots of health benefits. Here is a step-by-step baby massage sequence which can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.
Choose a time when you and baby are relaxed and there are no distractions, maybe before or after a bath or at nighttime if baby won’t sleep. This sequence is suitable for babies from 6-10 weeks that have cleared their pediatric check up.
What do I need?
Gather together the following things so you’re fully prepared with no distractions:
- Towel for baby to lay
- Extra towels to mop up and dry baby
- A firm & waterproof surface to massage on
- Massage oil
- Spare nappy
- Nappy bags
- Baby wipes
- Baby clothes for after the massage
- A drink for yourself
- Your baby’s milk
- And obviously your baby!
Where should I massage my baby?
- Choose a room that’s warm with gentle music playing in the background
- Choose a firm but soft surface to massage your baby, a baby changing mat on the floor is ideal (not a duvet or soft mattress where baby can roll off). It goes without saying, never leave your baby unattended.
Do I need massage oil?
It is lovely to massage your baby with oil and the oil may help soften your baby’s skin. Olive oil or sunflower oil – preferably organic – are both are safe to use on baby’s skin. Babies’ skin is much thinner than ours so anything you apply will be absorbed into the blood stream… my rule of thumb with oils is if you wouldn’t consume it yourself don’t rub it in! If you choose to use another oil or if your baby shows any signs of reactions stop using the oil immediately and seek advice from a health professional.
When should I not massage my baby?
Choose a time when your baby is calm and not hungry, tired or upset. It’s not advisable to massage your baby if:
- Baby has just been vaccinated…please wait 48 hours after a vaccination to massage and only massage if your baby is well again. If in doubt please get your doctor’s permission first.
- Baby has a fever / high temperature or is unwell
- Baby has an infectious skin condition
- Baby has any fractures, broken bones or bruised skin
- If you are unsure about your babies well being in any way, you must seek medical advice
The massage routine
NB no pressure is needed, just gentle stroking over baby’s skin
1. Look in your baby’s eyes, gently hold their feet and say the word ‘Massage’. Then calmly remove your baby’s clothes including the nappy while still looking into your baby’s eyes.
2. Pitter Patter – Soothing
Start the massage on your baby’s head by gently pitter pattering your fingers gently all over your baby’s scalp whilst singing ‘I hear thunder’. Avoid the fontanelle (soft spot) area of your baby’s head
3. Shampoo – Soothing
Then gently massage your baby’s scalp as if you were putting shampoo into your baby’s hair (for those that have hair!) Again no pressure, again avoid the fontanelle.
4. Finger massage – Encourages baby to open up hands and is relaxing
Massage each of your baby’s fingers using your thumb and index finger starting at the thumb. Babies really love the song ‘Tommy Thumb’ which can be sung as you move to each finger from thumb to little finger.
5. Palm rub – Reassuring and calming
Place your thumb on the centre of one of your baby’s palms, with no pressure gently rotate over the skin surface 4-5 times. Then repeat on the other hand.
6. Apply oil
Apply a small amount of oil into your hands and rub your hands together to warm the oil. Please do not pour oil directly onto your baby’s skin as this may be a shock, especially if it is cold!
7. Tummy stroke – Relaxes the tummy helping digestion and trapped wind
Please note this step is best avoided if baby has just fed within the last 45-60 minutes…move onto step 8
Place one hand (palm down) on your baby’s tummy and gently stroke down over the tummy area towards the legs. Then remove your hand and repeat this stroke with the other hand. Keep alternating your hands and repeat this move with each hand 4-5 times. (Do not press into the tummy it is very delicate)
8. Foot massage – top
With your thumb massage all over the tops of your baby’s feet 2-3 times
9. Foot massage – soles
With your thumb or fingers (whichever feels comfortable) massage all over the soles of your baby’s feet 2-3 times
10. Twinkle Toes
Starting at the big toe gently massage each of your baby’s toes using your thumb and index finger (taking care not to squeeze). In baby reflexology the toes represent the teeth and sinuses so toe massage not only feels great to baby it also may offer help in easing your baby’s teething pain and any congestion within the sinuses.
11. To finish
Look into your baby’s eyes, gently hold their feet and say the word ‘Finished’. Well done! Give your baby a hug, offer a feed and make sure baby is warm.
Disclaimer: Baby Massage is in no way a substitute for medical advice/treatment. Always seek medical advice if you are worried about your baby’s health and only massage if you have been given permission from your GP.