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Massage for Newborns: Tips & Benefits

Do you love a good massage? Ever wondered if your baby would too? Massage can help your baby relax, encourage communication and help you bond.

7 mins to read Jun 26, 2024

Let’s delve into the benefits of safely and effectively massaging your newborn, how to begin, different techniques, safety measures, and ways to incorporate massage into daily routines.

Understanding the benefits of newborn massage

Massage for newborns is a soothing practice that offers both physical and emotional benefits for your baby. Babies acquire the sense of touch at around the sixth month of life in the womb. The "skin to skin" contact of massage from birth can mimic the contact experienced by your baby during pregnancy. Some of the benefits include:

  • Boosting communication and bonding with your little one.
  • Providing a sense of security and comfort through gentle touch and close physical contact, building trust with your baby.
  • Promoting a calm and relaxed state for your baby, which may help alleviate any stress or irritability they are experiencing, and may also be beneficial for sleep
  • Soothing growing muscles, and a newborn tummy massage may soothe tummy discomfort.
  • Allowing your partner to have quality bonding time with baby too.


When and how to start massaging your newborn

Massage for infants can be a delightful way to bond and promote their overall well-being. However, knowing when and how to start is key. Here are some tips to help you begin:

The best times of day for infant massage: Choose a moment when your baby is calm and alert, such as after a bath, before bedtime, or after a nappy change. Avoid massaging your baby immediately after feeding or when they are fussy or tired. The most important thing is that both of you are available and calm for sharing a few minutes bonding together and communication.

Signs that your baby is ready for a massage: Look for cues like relaxed body language, eye contact, and a calm demeanour. If your baby appears tense or uncomfortable, wait for another time.

Creating a calm and comfortable environment: Find a quiet, warm space where you and your baby can relax. Dim the lights, play soft music, and ensure the room is distraction-free. You can lie baby on the changing table or on a bed. You can also try sitting with your baby on a blanket or pillow on your raised knees. Use a gentle touch and communicate with your baby through soothing words and eye contact. If your baby cries or does not appear to feel at ease then they probably do not feel like having a massage. You can try again later on in the day or another day altogether.

Remember, every baby will have different needs and wants, so it's essential to listen to your baby's cues and adjust your approach accordingly. Enjoy this special bonding time with your little one!



Essential baby massage techniques

Bonding with your newborn through massage can be a wonderful way to connect and provide comfort. Before you get started, remove any jewellery to avoid injury to your baby. Wash your hands, then rub them together for a few minutes to warm them up. Talk to your baby and explain what you are going to do. You can sing or chat to your baby while massaging to reassure your baby. Stop as soon as your little one becomes restless.

Infant massage techniques for different parts of the body

Baby's legs and feet:
Begin by gently rubbing your baby's legs and feet with warm, baby-safe oil. Use long, sweeping strokes from the thighs down to the feet (careful they are very sensitive!), applying gentle pressure. Massage the soles of their feet in circular motions with your fingertips. This can help relax your baby and improve circulation.

Baby's arms and hands:
Hold your baby's hand and gently rotate their wrist in a circular motion. Using your thumbs, massage their palms with gentle pressure. Stroke their arms from the shoulders down to the wrists, alternating hands.

Baby's back and tummy:
Your baby may love a good tummy massage if they’re feeling unsettled. Use light, clockwise strokes around the belly button, being extra gentle as the tummy is sensitive. Once your baby is old enough to lie on their tummy, massage the back gently one hand after the other, firstly from the base of the neck to the lower back then up again. Try small circular motions on their back with your fingertips.

Always pay attention to your baby's cues and stop if they show signs of discomfort. Baby massage should be a soothing and enjoyable experience for both of you. 



Safety tips for newborn massage

Safety and comfort should always be your top priority when it comes to infant massage. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Identifying and avoiding overstimulation
    Newborns have delicate sensory systems, and overstimulation can be overwhelming for them. Look for signs such as increased fussiness, crying, or turning away. If you notice these signs, stop the massage and provide a calm environment for your baby to relax.


  2. The importance of using gentle, natural oils:
    You may not need any special products for massaging.  If you’re going to use any creams or oils, make sure they are baby-safe and are made specifically for their delicate skin. Avoid products containing harsh chemicals or fragrances, as they may cause irritation.


  3. Recognising when to stop the massage:
    Pay attention to your baby's cues during the massage. If they become agitated, cry excessively, or show signs of discomfort, it's important to stop the massage. Every baby is different, so it's essential to respect their individual needs and preferences.


  4. Never leave your baby unattended:
    Be mindful if you are massaging your baby in certain places that leaving them unattended can pose significant risks to their safety. For example, massaging on an elevated surface like a change table puts them at risk of falling if unattended. Constant supervision is crucial to ensure their well-being and prevent any potential harm.



Incorporating massage into daily routines

Incorporating massage into your daily routines can be a wonderful way to bond and nurture your newborn. It not only provides numerous benefits for your baby's physical and emotional well-being but also creates special moments of relaxation and closeness. Here are some simple ways to include massage in your daily routine:

Combining massage with bath time:

Make bath time a soothing experience by incorporating a gentle massage. Gently massage your baby's arms, legs, and back using gentle strokes. This not only helps to relax your baby but also promotes healthy circulation and aids in muscle flexibility.

Integrating massage into bedtime routines:

Adding a massage to your baby's bedtime routine can help create a calm and peaceful environment, signalling that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Use a natural, unscented massage oil and gently massage your baby's body with slow, rhythmic strokes. This can relax your baby's muscles and promote a sense of comfort, making it easier for them to drift off into a restful sleep.

Using massage during nappy changes:

Nappy changes can sometimes be a challenging experience for babies. Incorporating massage into this routine can help distract and soothe your baby during nappy changes. After removing the dirty nappy, apply a small amount of baby oil or cream to your hands and gently massage your baby's tummy, legs, and feet. This gentle touch can provide comfort and relaxation, making the nappy change a more enjoyable experience for both of you.

Remember, while incorporating massage into your daily routine, it's important to always follow your baby's cues and preferences. If your baby shows any signs of discomfort or resistance during the massage, adjust your approach or try again at another time. Enjoy these precious moments of connection.


Frequently asked questions about massage for newborns

How to massage an infant?

When massaging an infant, it's important to create a calm and comfortable environment. Use gentle, rhythmic strokes with warm hands and a natural oil or baby-safe cream. Start with the legs and gradually move to the arms, back, and tummy, using light pressure. Pay attention to your baby's cues and adjust the pressure accordingly. Maintain eye contact and talk softly to your baby throughout the massage. Take your time, be mindful of their comfort, and enjoy this special bonding experience. 

When should you start massaging your baby?

You can start massaging your baby from birth, as long as both you and your baby are comfortable. Newborns have delicate skin, so use gentle strokes and ensure your hands are warm. As your baby grows, you can continue to massage them regularly. It's a wonderful way to bond, soothe, and promote relaxation. However, always be responsive to your baby's cues and preferences. If they seem uncomfortable or don't enjoy it, you can try again at a later time.

Is massage good for a newborn baby?

Yes, massage is generally beneficial for newborn babies, it's a lovely way to connect with your little one. It can promote bonding, relaxation, and help with soothing and calming. Pay attention to your baby's cues, adjust the pressure accordingly, and stop if they are becoming upset or agitated.