Massage for babies
Massage is a wonderful way of soothing your baby. We give you step-by-step tips on massaging baby from head to toe.
There are many reasons to massage your baby, the best is emotional and physical enhancement and the bonding experience for mom and baby. Massage also:
- Improves circulation
- Improves the sleep cycle
- Aids relaxation
- Assists the digestive process
- Stimulates the neural connections – enhancing physical and psychological development
Before you start...
- Massage needs to be a leisurely activity, so make sure that you have at least half an hour of uninterrupted time ahead. The room should be warm and draught free. Have everything on hand, including a warm towel with which to cover your baby afterwards.
- Always use pre-diluted oil massage oil specially prepared for babies. Some of the essential oils that can be used once diluted include chamomile roman (Anthemis nobilis) for relaxation, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) for de-stressing, tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) for healing.
- If you wish to dilute your own oils the accepted dosage is a total of five drops of essential oil in 50ml of carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil. But if in doubt, buy oil especially blended for babies.
- Massage firmly yet gently, as light feathery touches can be quite stressful for a newborn.
Legs and feet
- With your baby lying on his back, oil the front of his legs (remembering to warm the oil in your hands before applying)
- Hold baby’s left foot with your left hand and with your right hand, using a stroking movement, start at the ankle and sweep your hand up to the top of the leg and return gently. Repeat three to four times
- Still holding his foot with your left hand, with right thumb slowly circle up his leg. Gently slide back to the ankle three to four times
- With the right thumb, move in circles over the sole of his foot. This is particularly useful for colic. On the top of his foot, gently stroke down in-between the metatarsals (the small bones of the foot)
- Finish off by gently stroking over his entire leg. Repeat all movements on his right leg, using your left hand to massage.
- Repeat the above movements on the backs of the legs.
- Apply oil to tummy
- With fingertips on each shoulder, draw fingers down his breastbone to his naval
- Draw fingers out to the sides of his waist and underneath
- Then draw fingers to underneath his naval
- Using as much of your hand as possible, gently move your hand in a clockwise circle around his naval 3 to 4 times
- Glide fingers straight back up to his shoulders and repeat three to four times
Arms and hands
- Apply oil to his left arm
- Hold your baby’s left arm with your left hand, move gently up the arm with your right hand, circle his shoulder and return gently
- Hold your baby’s hand and circle the palm with your thumb
- Repeat both movements on the right arm
- Don’t use oil on the scalp area
- Place fingertips on your baby’s scalp and very gently move his scalp over the bone. Massage his scalp gently but firmly with your fingertips and thumbs
- Move fingers to a new area of the scalp and repeat
- Apply the oil to your hands
- With your hands on either side of your baby’s spine, and starting at the buttocks, move gently up his back and return lightly down his sides. Usually, it’s only possible to use the fingers on small babies. Repeat three to four times
- Place your thumbs on either side of his spine at the buttocks and slowly and gently move up the back with small thumb circles to the top of his spine at the base of the neck. Return gently down the sides of his body. Repeat 3 to 4 times.