The right massage steps and techniques for your newborn baby
Daily baby massages are a great way to bond with baby. What’s more, researchers have found that massage may promote better sleep, relieve colic, and possibly boost an infant’s immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development. Here are some tips and techniques to help you along the way.
Use a blanket or towel and massage the oil into an unbreakable bowl. (Test the oil on a small patch of your child’s skin and wait a day to make sure no irritation appears.) Start when your baby is calm and awake at the same time – not immediately after feeding or when he is asleep. Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together to form a diamond shape with your legs. Place the blanket on your feet and between your knees.
Undress your baby to his nappy, put him on the blanket, and rest his head on your feet. Start with a gentle “hello” stroke from the baby’s head to his toes. If the baby is stiff, cries, or becomes upset, move on to another part of the body or simply finish the massage for the whole day. If she responds well, start by gently massaging her body section by section.
- Hold your hand so that the edge of your pinkie moves like a paddle across your baby’s belly. Starting at the base of the rib cage, strike with one hand, then the other, in a paddle wheel-like motion.
- Massage her stomach with your fingertips in a clockwise circular motion.
- Do the “I Love U” hit: follow the letter I down your child’s left side. She then follows an inverted L, stroking across her abdomen along the base of her ribs from the right side to the left and down. Trace the inverted U, stroking from the bottom on the child’s right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.
- Walk your fingers around her navel in a clockwise direction.
- Hold the knees and feet together and gently press her knees toward her stomach. Rotate the child’s hip several times to the right. (This often helps expel gas.)
- Place your hand on your stomach horizontally and move your hand from side to side several times. Note: Avoid massaging the abdomen if the umbilical cord has not completely healed.
Head and face
- Embrace your baby’s head with both hands, and massage the scalp with your fingertips, as if you were washing with shampoo. (Avoid fontanels, the soft spot on top of baby’s head.)
- Massage her ears between her thumb and forefinger.
- Trace the shape of the heart on your child’s face, and join your hands together at the chin.
- Place your thumb between your child’s eyebrows, and stroke him.
- Once again with your thumbs, gently tap the baby’s closed eyelids.
- Knock from the bridge of the nose to the cheeks.
- Massage your jaw in small circles, using your fingertips.
- Place both hands on your baby’s chest and push out from the sternum to her shoulders.
- Starting at the sternum, draw a heart that raises both hands to her shoulders, then down and back together.
- In the crossover pattern, tap diagonally from one side of your child’s hip, up and on the opposite shoulder, and back to her hip.
- With one hand, hold the child’s wrist. Relax her arm by tapping it gently.
- Hold her wrist in one hand and your other hand in a C-shape around the child’s upper arm; From her shoulder to her wrist.
- With each hand holding her arm, one directly above the other, a caress from shoulder to wrist while rotating both hands in opposite directions, as if you were gently squeezing a towel.
- Massage the palm of her hand, moving the thumb from the heel of her hand to her fingers.
- Beating the top of the hand from the wrist to the fingertips. Gently press and pull each finger.
- Massage her wrist, by moving your fingers in circles.
- Wrap her arm in your hands.
- Place the baby on his stomach, horizontally in front of you, or place him on your outstretched legs. Put her hands in front of her, not next to her.
- With both hands on the child’s back, move each hand back and forth (while continuing in the opposite direction) from the base of the neck to the buttocks.
- Hold your baby’s buttocks with one hand and use the other to hit his neck to his buttocks.
- Using your fingertips, massage in small circles down one side of the baby’s spine and up on the other side. Avoid putting pressure on her spine directly.
- Massaging her shoulders with small circular motions.
- Massaging the buttocks with large circular motions.
- Hold your fingers like a rake, and press her back.
- Raise one of her legs from the ankle and relax her by tapping gently on the top of her thigh.
- Hold her ankles in one hand and place your other hand in a C-shape with the thumb down around the top of your child’s thigh. Paused from thigh to foot
- With your hands holding the leg by the thigh, one directly above the other, strike from hip to foot while rotating both hands in opposite directions, as if you were squeezing a towel.
- On the sole of her foot, use a thumb motion to massage from heel to toe.
- Use your whole hand to wipe the bottom of her foot from heel to toe.
- Hit the top of her foot. Gently press and pull each finger.
- Massage around her ankle using small circles.
- Roll her leg between your hands as if you were rolling the dough.
- Make the strokes gentle but steady and not tickle.
- Include massages in your baby’s daily schedule.
- Follow your child’s cues about when to stop. The massage can last for 10 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on her mood.
All content here, including advice from physicians and other healthcare professionals, should be taken as opinions only. Always seek the direct advice of your doctor with any questions or concerns you may have concerning your own health or the health of others.