Baby Massage – A Brief How-To Guide

Caroline Barber
Written by Caroline Barber

Why should a new parent massage their baby and what are the benefits of Baby Massage? 

There are so many benefits of Baby Massage.

It is a traditional practice to:

  • increase bonding and attachment between parents and their babies,
  • to stimulate the babies bodies, body awareness and language development,
  • to provide relief of things like growing pains, sore tummies, teething and poor circulation,
  • and of course, to relax together, getting all the wonderful hormones flowing (oxytocin and prolactin)!

Massage is used with many babies. Lots of studies show that preterm babies gain weight, develop more and bond better with their parents if they are massaged, compared to babies who are not massaged.

Massage makes babies hungry and tired, so this is good to keep in mind, especially if you are feeling that feeding or sleeping are of concern.

Massage is derived from Indian practices, Swedish practices, yoga and reflexology, so when a baby is massaged they are getting the best from many worlds!

When is the best time to massage my baby?

Every baby is different, so parents will have to take cues from the baby, and see what they are doing. To massage, we are looking for a time when the baby is awake, not crying or eating, and is not too active. Try to find a time when the baby is quiet and alert, bright eyed, gently looking about, making some gurgles or coos, relaxed breathing, with calm movements.

Massaging after a big feed is not advisable, and leave 48 hours after immunisations before massaging.

Also, while you might have the timing right for the baby, is the timing right for you? If you have a lot going on, you won’t be relaxed. Turn off your phone, forget about everything else for 15 minutes, and just be with your baby.

What equipment do I need?

All you really need is your baby, and a warm cosy place to massage. Massage oil is also an essential. The recommended oil is a cold pressed organic sunflower oil, and I like to have vitamin E added for extra nourishment for their lovely skin, especially in cooler weather.

How should I massage my baby? Where do I start?

A firm, warm stroke, with well-oiled hands is the best way to massage your baby! That combined with a loving voice, lots of good eye contact, and maybe some gentle singing and chatting, ending with lots of kisses and cuddles.