How to massage an infant for best health results

Massaging your baby after they have had a bath is ideal.

Massaging your baby after they have had a bath is ideal.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • Infant massage is an excellent way to bond with your baby and can provide a number of health benefits.
  • It is important to use an oil that is safe for infants and pay attention to the baby's cues to ensure a positive experience.

Massaging the tummy, feet, legs, face, ears, and head are all great ways to provide an infant massage. With a bit of practice, you will be a pro in no time!

For centuries, people have used massage to relax both body and mind. Infant massage can have significant benefits for both babies and their parents.

The gentle touch and rhythmic strokes can soothe both body and mind, making it an ideal way to promote sleep and ease colic or gas pain. Additionally, infant massage can improve circulation and boost immunity.

Infant massage is designed specifically for infants.

Infant massage tips

Before you begin, it is vital to have everything you need within your arm's reach. This includes a towel or mat to place the baby on, a bottle of oil, and some soft music if desired.

When massaging your baby, use gentle strokes with the tips of your fingers. Avoid using pressure or pushing too hard. You should also avoid massaging any areas that are bruised, swollen, or have cuts or scrapes.

Pay attention to the baby's cues and stop if they become agitated. On the other hand, if the baby seems to be enjoying the massage, you can continue for as long as you like.

When using massage oils, test them first on a small part of the baby's skin. Avoid using oils with strong smells because they can be overwhelming for a baby. Note that massage oil is optional.

Try to make it a routine. Establish a regular massage time with your baby. This can be done once a day or several times throughout the week. You may find that nighttime is the best time for an infant massage, to promote sleep.

How to massage the infant

Massaging the tummy

When massage is done on the tummy area, it can improve digestion and relieve constipation.

Start by rubbing the oil in your hands to warm it up. Then, apply it to the baby's tummy in a clockwise direction. Use gentle strokes with your fingertips and avoid pushing too hard.

Feet and legs

To massage the feet and legs, start by gently stroking the foot from the toes to the ankle. Apply pressure with your thumb to the arch of the foot. You can also massage the calf muscles in a circular motion.

For the toes, you can use a gentle kneading motion.

To finish, stroke the foot and leg from the ankle to the toes.

Face

To massage the face, start by stroking the forehead from the centre outwards. Then, stroke down both sides of the face from the temples to the jaw. Finish by stroking from under the chin down to the chest.

Ears are easily forgotten, but they are also a suitable place to massage. To do this, cup your hand around the ear and stroke it gently.

You can also use circular motions on the cheeks.

Best oils for massaging infants

There are a variety of oils that can be used for infant massage. However, it is important to choose an oil that is safe for use on infants. Some good options include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Almond oil
  • baby oil
  • Grapeseed oil

These oils are all hypoallergenic, making them safe for infants' sensitive skin.

Commonly asked questions

Can anyone give an infant massage?

Yes, anyone can learn how to give an infant massage. However, it is important to be gentle and avoid using too much pressure.

Are there any contraindications for infant massage?

There are no contraindications for infant massage. However, avoid massaging any areas that are bruised, swollen, or have cuts or scrapes. It is also important to assess the oil on a small area of the baby's skin before using it.

Can I use lotion instead of oil?

Yes, you can use lotion instead of oil. However, choose a hypoallergenic and non-scented lotion. You should also test the lotion on a small area of the baby's skin before using it.

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