Young babies thrive on touch. Massaging your baby enhances the emotional bond, provides a calm experience, improves sleep patterns, improves circulation, helps develop sensory awareness and can even be used to soothe tummies and support digestion.
It is a relaxing and fun activity that moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers and even older siblings can enjoy with the baby.
There are many wonderful books, great articles on the web and even classes about infant massage techniques.
Remember, perfect technique is not what matters! Your loving, warm gentle touch is what is most important.
Below is some basic info to get you started.
Your baby's skin is so sensitive. It is a good idea to test
any oil used for massage
on a small spot of your baby's skin and wait a day
to be sure no irritation appears.
- There is a French phrase, mise en place (pronounced miz on plas) meaning "putting in place,” that is used in the culinary world to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients so they are prepared and ready to go before you start cooking. It is a good idea to gather the items you need, before you begin your massage. This includes the baby massage oil, tissues, clean diapers, towels and clothes, etc. I like to make lists!
- Begin when your baby is in a quiet yet alert state. Do not wake the baby or begin immediately before or after a feeding.
- Any simple organic oil will do. Be careful not to use oils made for adults without reading ingredients carefully. A baby's skin will be very sensitive to even some natural ingredients. Of course, our organic Baby Me! Massage & Bath Oil is awesome!
- You can place your bottle of massage oil into a bowl of hot water to warm or warm the oil by rubbing in your palms.
- Spread a soft towel on a flat surface. Find a place or position in which you both are comfortable. You can use a changing table, a bed or sit on the floor using your lap or a pillow for the baby. Make sure the environment is warm and undress your baby completely. Some babies do not like feeling “naked.” A small soft washcloth covering the areas you are not massaging may make them feel more secure.
- Be sure that your hands are warm. Rub only a few drops of oil at a time on your palms. You want enough oil so that your palms glide easily on the baby's skin but are not too oily. You can apply more oil later if needed.
- Use smooth, gentle but firm strokes with your palm or fingers. Do not put too much pressure on the baby's delicate body and avoid the spine. Those new to baby massage often ask how much pressure to apply. A great way to judge how much pressure, is to use the same amount of pressure that you can comfortably apply on your eyelids when your eyes are closed.
- A gentle circular motion on chest and stomach, stroking across the shoulders, downward movement on the arms and legs and upward movements on the back are a great way to begin. Don't forget the feet--gentle massage of the foot, heels and toes is very relaxing!
- Do not oil baby's palms or fingers since babies tend to put them in their mouths or eyes. Avoid the face and genital area.
- Keep the baby engaged during the massage by talking or singing. Using quiet peaceful sounds enhances relaxation. Maintaining eye contact ensures the baby of your undivided attention.
- Allow the baby to move or change position, go with the flow and move to a new area to massage.
- If your baby is relaxed you can gently repeat the whole process from head to toe.
- Wrap the baby in a clean and warm towel after the massage and cuddle, cuddle, cuddle!
Dr. Frederick Laboyer, a French obstetrician, best known for his book,
Birth Without Violence, said . . .
“Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant.
Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins."