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Infant Massage: Benefits & Techniques

baby laying on back while receiving a infant massage

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Infant massage is a great way for parents to bond and interact with their baby! 

Some studies have suggested that infant massage can actually be very beneficial for babies! 

Below I’ll be talking about some basic infant massage techniques on how to do baby massage at home. 

I’ve also listed some of the wonderful benefits of massage therapy for babies!  


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Infant Massage


What are the Benefits of Infant Massage?


Bonding Time

When you’re massaging baby you’re giving a nurturing touch and doing skin to skin contact.  Which makes it a great way to bond with baby!

This article about infant massage states that it has been shown to assist with improving attachment and strengthening the bond between parents and their baby.  And that the Pediatric Nursing Journal (2005) reported that parents/caregivers who massage their babies feel emotionally closer.


Helps with Colic

Baby massage has been said to help with gas and colic.

In this study about massage for infantile colic, the results were that infantile colic massage helps relax the gastrointestinal tract and good digestion.  They also state that compared to other treatments for colic, massage is much more enjoyable and it’s safe.


Helps with Constipation and Gas

By doing a special technique on the baby’s abdomen, it can help relieve constipation in babies.

You can watch this video that’ll show you baby massage for constipation and gas.


Reduces Tension and Growing Pains

Babies have muscles and feel pain too!  And massage therapy can help relieve muscle pains and aches.

Infant massage may also help with teething discomfort.


Improves Sleep

In this study, they looked at nine studies of massage of young children covering a total of 598 infants aged under six months. They found the various studies showed a range of significant results including indications that infants who were massaged cried less, slept better, and had lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol compared to infants who did not receive massage.


Reduces Stress and Promotes Relaxation

We all know that getting a massage is super relaxing but did it know it can actually reduce stress too?

See when a baby gets a massage, their bodies release the hormone oxytocin, aka the “feel-good” hormone, and decreases the levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone.


Reduces Crying and Fussiness

Infant massage has been shown to reduce crying and fussiness in babies.

It also helps with common things that can make a baby cry like colic and gas pains.


Boosts Muscle Development and Flexibility

It is said that by stroking your baby’s body you are stimulating the receptor cells in the muscle fibers.  This then stimulates the muscles.

Baby massage can also increase flexibility.


Improves Sensory and Body Awareness

Here it says that, The regular application of soothing touch may help the child create a mental image of their whole body and increase their self-awareness. This may improve the baby’s ability to play with their own body and with the world around them, for example by reaching for their feet, their caregiver, or any object they may find attractive.


Can Help Them Learn Body Parts

While you’re massaging, say what body part you’re doing.  Like if you’re doing baby’s arms you can ask something like, “Does that feel good on your arm?” or simply say, “Ok, I’m gonna do your arm now.”.

Doing this can help them learn words for different parts of the body!


When Should I Not Massage Baby?


Though massaging baby is beneficial, there are times you hold off on giving your baby a massage.

So don’t do infant massage if:

        • Baby has eaten within the last 30-45 minutes- If you do, they WILL puke!
        • Has a High Fever
        • Jaundice
        • Unhealed Umbilical Cord
        • Skin Infections
        • Skin Wounds (burns, cuts, bruises, open wounds, fractures, etc.)
        • Diarrhea
        • Has had Immunizations within the last few days 
        • Inflammation 
        • Vomiting
        • After a Recent Surgery
        • Has undiagnosed lumps



How Do You Give a Baby a Massage?


Items You’ll Need:

          • A Place to Massage Baby
          • Towel or Blanket
          • A Pad to Put Underneath- If you plan on massaging baby with no diaper, you’ll need some kind of absorbent pad in case they decide to go potty!
          • A Natural Lotion or a Safe Oil- You can use coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, or some kind of other gentle natural lotion to use on baby for the massage.  Be sure though to test the lotion/oil on baby’s skin BEFORE you start putting it all over them!  Just put a dab of it somewhere on their skin and see if they get a reaction from it first.


Infant Massage Techniques

Here are 5 easy techniques you can use for baby massage.  This is a simple routine that I use to do on my baby.

            1. Before giving the massage, lay baby down, and ask if they would like a massage.  Do this while rubbing lotion in your hands so baby can see.  This will help them know that it’s massage time!  If they start crying or making a fuss, wipe the lotion off your hands and try again later.  There’s no need to force it!  They’ll let you know when they’re ready for their massage.
            2. When doing the legs there’s a technique called “milking the cow”.  Why?  Cause the motion is similar to milking a cow!  Alright, so start at the top of their leg (base of the thigh) and do a long smooth stroke going all the way down their leg to their foot.  Do it a couple of times while alternating hands.  You can do this going up their leg as well (foot to thigh).
            3. Repeat the same motion but on the arms.  Starting at the shoulder then going down to their hand.  You can also go up their arm (starting at the hand and then going up to the shoulder).
            4. When doing their hands and feet, just swipe your thumbs on their palms and soles of their feet.  You can do this on top of their hands and feet as well.
            5. On their tummy start on the right side and do circular motions going clockwise.  Have your hands flat and use the upper halves of your fingers.
            6. For the back, start at their low back (above their hips), and do circular motions on both sides of the spine going up (toward their head).

Tips: Choose a place to massage baby that is quiet, warm, and comfortable.  When massaging infants be firm but GENTLE.  You don’t need to feather touch them, but you also don’t want to be hard and rough with them either.


How Often Should You Massage Baby?

This will depend on you and your baby.

You can implement it daily, a couple of times a week, or just when you have time.

Just be sure it’s when you AND baby are ready for it.

You don’t want to force it!

So it’s important that you get the OK from the baby first.


When is the Best Time to Do Infant Massage?

The best time to massage baby is when they’re in the quiet-alert stage.

During this time baby is focused on hearing and seeing.  

They just calmly take in their surroundings.

This is an ideal time because they’ll be calm and won’t move around as much.


In Conclusion

As you can see infant massage has lots of benefits and can be quite easy to do at home!

And it can be a fun way for you or Dad to bond with baby!

Doing baby massage is safe as long as you don’t do it during certain times (see in the list above).

I would like to point out though that I am not a massage therapist. 

These are just basic techniques that I have learned over the years and have used on my own child.

If you want a better understanding of infant massage and how to do it, look for an infant massage class near you. 

You may also take your baby to get a massage by a licensed massage therapist who offers Infant Massage as well!


(Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or a licensed massage therapist.  I’m only a Mom who is going off her own experiences and research.  If you’d like to know more you can read my full disclaimer policy here.)


Related Posts:

Prenatal Massage Benefits and What to Expect


Infant Massage benefits and techniques pinterest. baby laying down relaxing

Have you done infant massage before?  How did it go?  Did the baby like it?  Let me know in the comments!  And if you liked this post, give it a share!  Thanks!

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