Step by Step Baby Massage

Sense of touch is very important to babies. It is one way in which they communicate with you and you with them. Remember when your baby first entered this world, he was placed on your stomach, skin to skin – this is to soothe the baby and make him less anxious. That is exactly why cuddles are important and why babies stop crying when they are picked up and held close. Massages for babies can be soothing and comforting. In addition to bonding with your baby and spending some quality time together, massages can help with a host of things like help relieve colic, aid digestion, increase muscle suppleness and muscle tone, skin texture and helps stimulate the nervous system. If these reasons are not reasons enough, a good massage before bedtime will make sure your baby sleeps into the night comfortably.

 

The best time to start baby massages as a regular routine is when your baby is 1 month old. As your baby is born, his skin barrier will be underdeveloped, rather sensitive and is not completely water tight. This should all change around 15 days after he is born. It is also around this time that his umbilical stump would fall off, which is a good time, since there is no risk of infections to his umbilical cord with the use of baby lotions or oil. Any ‘massage’ before this would be just soft, light stokes on his body on top of clothes.

 

When should you massage your baby?

 

Generally, a bed time, pre-wash massage routine would be a good option, however, if your baby has very dry skin, an after-wash massage would double as a good moisturizing routine and help lock-in the moisture. You can also try it out during the day and have a ‘clothes free time’. Make sure you baby is in a good mood and alert, so not sleepy and cranky. You should ideally be massaging your baby in between feeds when you baby is neither very full nor very hungry. Remember to also make sure you don’t feed your baby right afterwards and give your baby at least 15 minutes to wind down after the massage since your baby would be quite stimulated after the massage.

 

What products can I use?

 

Baby cream or baby oil would both be good options.

 

 Setting Up for Massage

 

Make sure your nails are cut are filed.

 

You need a comfortable flat space, make sure that you are not on any changing tables and the like where your baby can roll over or fall over crawling. Good options would be a bed or a soft carpeted floor.  Remember to place a towel or cot sheet that will absorb any excess oil.

 

Keep all your supplies close to you – within reach, so that you don’t need to look for them and leave your baby unsupervised or interrupt the massage.

 

Step-by-Step Massage Instructions

 

  • Place your baby on his back.

 

  • To start, take some baby oil or cream in your hands and rub them together to warm them a bit before putting them on your baby. Remember, babies are much more sensitive to temperature than we are.

 

  • For the feet: Babies simply adore touch and touching their feet is something that they usually react positively to. Start with your baby’s heels. Use your thumbs to massage the heels and slowly work your way up to the toes. Once you are done with the bottom of the foot, move to the top and use you palm to gently stroke the baby’s foot. Use very soft and light movements. If you are used to foot massages yourself, remember not to ‘pull out’ the toes like they do when yours are done!

 

  • For the legs: Gently lift a leg a bit up. Using gentle strokes, stoke upwards towards the thighs. Once you have reached the top of the thigh, work downwards wringing lightly with movements like you would when you wring a towel. Remember to be very light and very gentle.

 

  • Repeat on the other leg.

 

  • For the arms: Start with the top of the hands. Use gentle circular stokes with your thumb on the top of hand and move towards the fingers. Turn the palm gently and massage the palm gently using straight strokes towards the wrist. For the wrists, use, circular motions like putting on bangles. Now move to the upper hand by using gentle circular movements like you did with the leg using gentle wringing motions.

 

  • For the chest and shoulders: Use both your hands at the same time to move from the shoulder towards the chest. Next rub gently outwards from the chest to the shoulders. Then proceed to making gentle strokes tracing from the sternum, the chest bone, across the chest, in a heart shape.

 

  • For the tummy: This is an even more delicate area of the baby, even though, all areas are very delicate in a baby. Use clockwise circular strokes all across the belly and around the belly button.

 

  • For the head and face: Massing the baby’s head and face can be a tricky since they tend to move quite a bit. Use both hands on the baby’s head and run your hands down the side of the face. Make sure your nails are cut and there aren’t any sharp edges on your and draw light tiny circles on the baby’s head with your fingertips.

 

  • For the back: Finally, we move to the back. If you baby can’t support his neck yet, carry your baby and hold you baby close to your chest and massage the back and then end with light circular motions and stroke the back down towards their bottom. If he can support his neck, then place your baby on the stomach. Use your fingertips and without any pressure, trace clockwise circles on the upper back and move slowly towards the buttocks.

 

After you’re finished, wipe your baby down gently with a tissue to remove any excess residue of the cream or oil you were using.

 

Massage Tips:

  • If it any point your baby gets cranky and sounds like he is not enjoying his massage time. Stop immediately.

 

  • Remember to always use the lightest of touch. Never apply any sort of pressure and be feather light since the baby’s bones and tissues are very delicate. Also, never massage the genitals or around the groin area.

 

  • Do not massage the spine at any point.

 

  • Do not massage your baby is he is sick and has a flu or fever.

 

  • If at any point your find your baby developing a rash, discontinue use of the product and seek medical advice

 

Double check with your General Physician, Paediatrician and or midwife if you have any queries regarding the care of your baby. Information on this article is meant to be a general guideline. Advice on newborn care and childcare on this article are not meant to be substituted for a doctor’s or medical caregiver’s advice.

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