There are plenty of benefits to massaging your baby: not only is it a great way to express your love for your little one, but it will help to aid with their sleep, digestion, and circulation, too. It can also ease teething pain and promote bonding between you and your little one. So, we would highly recommend incorporating some massage time into your baby's daily routine if you can.
Here, we're going to offer our top baby massage tips, so you can get the most out of it, as well as keep your little one safe and happy.
When should you massage your baby?
You'll want to massage your little one between feeds, when they're awake and settled. Many parents incorporate a massage into their baby's bedtime or bathing routine, as it's a great way of helping them to wind down. But every baby is different, so it might make more sense to test out massaging them at different times of the day to establish when they react best to it.
What will you need?
It's best to massage your new-born in a warm room that's around 24°C. It's also important that there aren't any draughts or loud noises — the goal is to create an environment where it's easy for you both to relax.
You'll also want to lay your baby down on a soft towel or blanket, possibly with a changing mat underneath if you're worried about accidents. You'll also need:
- Massage oil or an emollient cream
- Towels or muslin squares to clean up if necessary
- Clothes to dress your little one in afterwards
- Your usual nappy changing kit
We would always recommend using an oil when massaging your baby. Not only will it help your hands to glide over their skin, but it will also go a long way to keeping them moisturised. Depending on your preferences and your little one's needs, you could use a baby moisturiser, medical emollient, vegetable oil, or baby mineral oil. Whichever you choose, just make sure you do a patch test by dabbing a little bit on your baby's skin the day before you plan to massage them for the first time. This way, you can make sure they're not going to have a bad reaction to the product you use.
How should you massage your baby?
The first few times, you might just want to massage their legs. They'll be used to their legs being touched during nappy changes, so starting here shouldn't unsettle them too much, but it's a great way of getting them used to the sensation. You can then ease into massaging more of their body.
It's a good idea to stick to a particular pattern when massaging your new-born, as they'll appreciate the sense of routine this gives them. Here's a step-by-step guide you can use while you're working out what your little one likes best:
- Squeeze a dab of oil or cream into your palm, and warm it up by rubbing your hands together.
- Gently rub this into your baby's skin, starting with their legs.
- Work your way up your little one's legs, gently squeezing their calves and thighs.
- Moving on to your new-born's chest and tummy, place both of your hands flat against their body and gently slide them apart — the movement should be similar to when you're flattening the pages of a book.
- Using your fingertips, make outward circular motions on your baby's front and back.
- Continue for as long as your little one is comfortable (or until they fall asleep).
Massaging your baby is a great way to bond with them, and it also has a whole host of other benefits. So, it's certainly worth trying. And, if you take these tips onboard, you should find that it's an enjoyable activity that both you and your little one will love.