Newborn baby massage: when to start, how to do it and its benefits

A newborn baby massage is a chance for the two of you to have a quiet, bonding moment. Make the most of it!

August 6, 2019

newborn baby massage: two babies lying on a bed
Family

A gentle massage can work wonders for your little one – and you! Whether you want a baby massage lesson to help with sleep or you want to learn baby constipation massage techniques to aid digestion, we’ve got it covered. Let us share with you our baby massage tips, the benefits of baby massage, and when to begin this lovely experience.

If any edible massage oil spills on your baby’s clothes or your own, make sure to wash the garments with a delicate detergent, such as Sunlight Washing Powder, and a fabric conditioner like Comfort Pure

Baby massage safety tips

Before you get started, here are some basic tips to follow to ensure your massage are safe for everyone.

When to start massaging a baby

While there aren’t any hard and fast rules about when to start massaging a baby, many believe it’s a good idea to wait until after the 6-week check. This is in case any development issues (like hip dysplasia) are identified. 

How to keep baby massages safe

  • Don’t use any oil for a newborn baby massage. Healthcare providers recommend steering clear until your baby is at least one month old. 
  • If you do use oil on older babies or children, make sure it’s safe for their skin.
  • Use a massage oil that's safe to ingest. Although you shouldn't encourage your baby to eat massage oil, they're likely to out their hands and skin to their mouth and could ingest some that way.
  • Patch test massage oil on a small area of your baby's skin. Wait at least 24 hours to check for a reaction.

Baby massage benefits

There are so many benefits of baby massages; both for the baby and the caregiver.

Benefits for the caregiver

  • Relaxation: increased production of wellbeing hormones - prolactin and oxytocin.
  • Bonding and confidence in handling your baby.
  • Communication: awareness of your baby’s needs and cues.

Benefits for the baby

  • Development: of vital systems including blood circulation, the immune system, muscle tone and the respiratory organs. 
  • Comfort: easing conditions such as constipation.
  • Relaxation: preparing them for sleep and helping them sleep better.

Baby massage techniques

To get started with your baby massage, here's a couple of massage techniques you can try for specific baby massage benefits:

For constipation

A baby constipation massage can also help with other digestive complaints, such as colic and wind. 

Suitable for: babies from 6 weeks.

How to massage baby bellies to ease constipation:

  1. Move your forefinger in a gentle spiral motion, starting at your baby’s belly button and moving to the edge of the belly.
  2. Progress to using your whole palm.
  3. Lightly hold your baby’s tummy, as the warmth of your hands will be soothing.
  4. Always massage your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction – this works in harmony with the digestive process.

For sleep

While there’s no magic formula to getting babies to sleep, a relaxing massage after bathtime can become a calming part of their routine. 

Suitable for: newborns.

How to massage baby feet to help them sleep:

  • Gently hold your baby’s foot and use one thumb after the other to stroke the sole, from heel to toes.
  • Make circles on your baby’s palms.
  • Support your baby’s wrist/ankle with one hand when massaging like this.

Now you have a better idea of how to massage baby feet, hands and bellies, you’ll be able to share this wonderfully bonding experience with your little one. Enjoy! Follow our baby massage how-tos next time you want to give your little one a treat!

  • Remove your jewellery and trim your nails if necessary.
  • Place your baby on a towel in front of you, in a warm room without overhead lights.
  • Warm your hands (and any edible oil).
  • Start with the feet and work upwards.
  • Stop the massage if your baby falls asleep or becomes distressed.