Newborn Basics

How To Do Baby Massage?

Is baby massage good for my infant? How can I do it?

Massage is not just a lavish treatment you splurge on when on vacation; it can be good for your baby too. Baby massage is an ancient technique that started in India and China, but has gained plenty of fans in the US. The perks? It can calm your baby; may help relieve colic, constipation and teething problems; and can even help you two bond. Babies thrive on skin-to-skin contact, so as long as you don’t overdo the pressure, it certainly can’t hurt!

You don’t need to be a certified massage therapist to do infant massage; you just have to start gently, observe how baby responds and adjust what you do accordingly.

Start by rubbing some baby massage oil on your hands (try California Baby massage oil or you can even use almond oil or olive oil). Next, gently knead baby’s legs, feet, back and hands — and belly if you want. Some experts believe rubbing baby’s belly helps reduce gas pains. Don’t apply too much pressure when massaging, but you can use a slightly firm grasp to soothe baby.

Just like you, babies have certain moods and preferences, so you’ll want to feel yours out to see if he likes being massaged when he’s cranky or sleepy, or if he’s like, “leave me alone!” Try giving him a massage and see how it goes. Some ways to tell he likes it are if his body seems to relax or he’s smiling at you. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll probably be squirmy and agitated. Baby’s not into massage when he’s cranky? Try it during playtime or tummy time, when he’s in a good, alert mood.

You can start to perform massage on baby right after birth. There’s no limit to how many times you can massage baby a day. It just depends (like everything else right now!) on baby’s mood.

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to Bathe Baby

How Can I Deal with a Fussy Baby?

Smart Ways to Play with Your Newborn

By Gayle Berry, founder of Blossom & Berry, a company that provides baby massage training classes