How to Give a Massage to a Baby

A good massage can help your baby feel more relaxed and sleep better, reduce crying, and control stress. It also can stimulate its digestive system and create a special bond between you and your child. So 5-Minute Crafts wants to share a step-by-step guide with you on how to give a massage to your baby properly.

If your infant has any health issues, talk to their doctor before trying to massage them at home.

Preparation

  • Choose the right time. The best time to massage a baby is when they’re in a “quiet alert state.” This means that the baby should calmly look at you, have an open body posture, and be ready to lay still for a while. There should also be a gap of at least 45 minutes from the baby’s last feeding session.
  • Make the setting. Choose a warm, quiet room and a spot with a flat surface for a massage. This may be a floor, your bed, or a table. Just place a thick towel or a blanket on the surface to make it more comfortable.
  • Place your baby on their back. This way, you’ll be able to keep eye contact with them and help them be more cooperative and interested.
  • Undress the baby. You can keep your baby’s vest on or undress them completely.
  • Choose an oil. It’s up to you whether to use oil or not. But if you do use oil, make sure that it’s odorless and edible since your baby may get it in their mouth. Some good options are coconut, olive, grape seed, apricot, or avocado oils.
  • Ask for your baby’s permission. To do this, take some oil in your palms and rub it gently on your baby’s tummy and behind the ears. If the baby resists or starts crying, then it’s probably not the right time for a massage. But if the baby shows positive signs, you can proceed.

Step 1: feet and legs

  • Start by massaging the baby’s soles with your thumbs from the heels up to the toes.
  • Continue by making circles with your thumb all over your baby’s soles.
  • Take your baby’s heel in one hand, lift the leg, and gently extend it toward the thighs. Then release it and repeat with the other leg.
  • Then, holding your baby’s heel in one hand, start making gentle strokes with your other hand from the foot up to the thigh.
  • End the leg massage by gently wringing each of your baby’s legs from thigh to foot in the same motion as if you’re squeezing a wet towel.

Step 2: hands and arms

  • Massage your baby’s hands in the same pattern as you’ve massaged its feet by making circular strokes on the palms.
  • Then slowly make strokes on the baby’s fingers, moving from the palms toward the tips of the fingers.
  • Turn the baby’s hand around and start stroking the back of its hand from the tips of the fingers toward the wrist.
  • Then massage the baby’s wrist with gentle circular motions.
  • Grab one of your baby’s arms with both hands, one right above the other, and massage the entire arm from the shoulder to the wrist with gentle circular motions, as if you’re wringing a towel.

Step 3: chest and shoulders

  • Start by making gentle simultaneous strokes from the left and right shoulders toward your baby’s chest.
  • Then you can trace the movement of your hands back to the shoulders.
  • Next, put both your hands at the center of your baby’s chest and start rubbing to the sides and downward, making a heart shape around the chest.

Step 4: tummy

  • Place your palm right below your baby’s chest bone and start massaging your baby’s tummy with circular motions in a clockwise direction.
  • Avoid the area around the belly button. It can be very sensitive and delicate as they’ve recently shed their umbilical cord stub.

Step 5: face and head

  • Place the tips of your index fingers at the center of your baby’s forehead and start stroking along the outline of the face toward the cheeks and then the chin.
  • Then put your index fingers on the baby’s cheeks and gently massage them in a circular motion.
  • After massaging the face, continue with the baby’s head by placing your fingertips on the area where its hair grows and making the same motions you’d make while shampooing.

Step 6: back

  • Turn your baby around and gently place them on their stomach, making sure that their hands are at the front and not at the sides. Place your hands on the baby’s upper back and slowly start stroking toward the buttocks in clockwise circles.
  • After that, place your index and middle fingers on either side of your baby’s spine and gently move them all the way down from the upper back to the buttocks. Repeat several times.
  • End the massage by gently stroking the baby’s shoulder blades with clockwise circular motions.

Finishing the massage

  • Once the massage is finished, wipe off the excess oil with a towel or some wet wipes.
  • Then cover the baby with a thick cotton cloth or a blanket so that they don’t feel cold.
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