Baby massage has been popular in the UK since the mid-1990’s. It involves gently stroking each part of your baby’s body. It has many benefits for a baby and is also a wonderful opportunity for you and your baby to have a quiet moment together, and to bond. Baby massage is a way of showing your baby they are loved. It also helps them feel secure and relax, which can encourage them to sleep.
The first thing to do is create the right atmosphere for your baby before you begin. Choose a room that is warm and free from draughts. Your baby will either be naked or just in their nappy and you don’t want them to get cold. Some people also like to have quiet, soothing background music on to help create the right atmosphere.
Make sure your hands are warm. Don’t wear any sharp rings or jewellery that could hurt or irritate your baby. Oils or lotions aren’t essential. In fact, for the first month of your baby’s life, experts recommend that you don’t use oils or lotions on baby’s sensitive skin. If you use them when your baby is old enough to tolerate them, avoid scented oils and lotions and those made from nuts. Always do a patch test the first time you use a new oil or lotion. Dab a little on a small area of your baby’s skin. Leave it for 30 minutes and check for a reaction. If there is no reaction, it is safe to continue.
Once you have the right atmosphere, warm hands and a suitable oil or lotion if desired, you want to follow a routine with the massage itself. Your baby will get to know the routine and take comfort from knowing what is next.
Have baby lying down in front of you on a mat comfortable for them. With the massage, start at your baby’s feet. Moving from heel to toe, stroke slowly and gently but firmly. As you get to the toes, spend a little time on each toe, gently pulling and spreading each toe out.
After the feet, move onto your baby’s legs. Stroke down each leg with firm but gentle strokes. Gently straighten each leg. Next, hold your baby’s knee and gently push their knee up towards their tummy.
Once you’ve finished with the lower body, move onto your baby’s chest. Gently stroke from the centre of the chest out towards their shoulders. Stroke down each arm towards their wrists, gently stretching out their arms. Using the same way you stroked your baby’s feet and toes, massage baby’s palms and each finger one by one. Don’t forget to wipe your baby’s hands if you are using oil or lotion. Babies love to put their fingers in their mouth.
After their arms and hands move onto your baby’s tummy. Gently stroke the tummy in a circular motion using clockwise strokes.
Move up towards baby’s face and gently massage their face, using your fingertips only, starting from the middle of the forehead. Stroke out round the eyes, then down and in towards baby’s cheeks. Next,
If your baby is comfortable on their front, turn them over to massage their back. This time, you are stroking from head to toe, using gentle, slow strokes. As you stroke down the leg towards the heel, lift the heel and gently stretch it up and towards your baby’s bottom.
All of this can help your baby relax and help you bond with your baby. Don’t continue with the massage if your baby seems unhappy. If your baby is unhappy, stop the massage and give them a cuddle. You can always try another time.