Guide: Baby Massage Tips

Baby massage is well-known for its ability to relax and soothe a baby.  If it’s done regularly, it can also be beneficial in stimulating the motor nerves which can improve your baby’s sleep patterns and even aid digestion.  It’s this amazing power of touch that helps the bonding between you and your baby too, helping your baby develop and grow healthily.


How old should your baby be before starting Baby Massage?

Your baby can be massaged from any age. Even premature babies can be massaged.  At whatever age, using the right massaging techniques will make your baby feel comfortable, calm and happy.   Always remember that the purpose of baby massage is to fully relax your baby so it shouldn’t cause a sense of fear or pain.  If your baby becomes frightened or appears in pain then discontinue massage until he is ready to try again. 


How to prepare for Baby Massage:

1. Clean your hands well, wash with running water.

2. When massaging, do not use force. Apply pressure gently and lovingly. Accompany with your voice (singing or talking) as this will help your baby feel more relaxed and secure.

3. Use baby lotion or baby massage cream products from brands you trust.  Avoid the use of menthol oil which will leave a strong scent on your baby’s skin. Remember, your baby’s skin is still very sensitive.

4. Avoid contact with sharp nails, watches, rings and any other foreign objects which could interfere with your baby’s skin.

5. Always massage at room temperature, ensure the baby is away from any cold or drafts.


Techniques for Baby Massage

Chest Massage:

1. Place both hands on your baby’s chest and stroke upwards and outward from the sternum up to his shoulders.

2. Beginning at the sternum, trace a heart shape by bringing both hands up to the shoulders, then gently down to the outside of the body, and back together gently at the pit of the stomach without lifting a hand.

[Repeat this sequence]


Stomach Massage:

1. Remember to always avoid hard massage around your baby’s ribs.

2. Starting at the base of the rib cage, stroke down with one hand, then the other, keep stroking lightly, like a rubbing massage.

3. This movement will help improve absorption in the digestive system, reduce constipation and helps regulate respiration and circulation system.

4. Gently place your right hand below the ribs and liver.  Move your right hand down with gentle pressure to below the navel. Repeat with the left hand and alternate several times.

5. Now on the baby’s stomach, use a circular motion with both hands alternately clockwise, starting with your right.

6. Now do the ‘I Love U’ stroke.

Trace the letter “I” down your baby’s left side. Then trace the letter” L” upside down. Massaging from the left to the right of the baby’s stomach, and then from the top to the bottom of the stomach.

Form the letter” U” upside down. Massaging from bottom right side to the top of the baby’s naval, then to the left, then down the lower left side.

7. Now walk your fingers around the navel, clockwise.

8. Finally, lift your baby‘s legs and hit his knee slowly toward his stomach.

Note: Avoid massaging the stomach if your baby’s cord hasn’t completely healed.


Leg Massage

1. Gently lift one of your baby’s legs by the ankle and relax it by lightly tapping the upper thigh.

2. Hold the ankle with one hand and hold your other hand in a C-shape around your baby’s upper thigh. Stroke from the thigh down to the foot.

3. Now, at the thigh, use both hands to hold your baby’s leg, one right above the other, then gently stroke down from hip to foot with both hands lightly rotating in opposite directions.

4. On the sole of your baby’s foot, use a thumb-over-thumb motion to massage from heel to toes.

5. Use your whole hand to stroke the bottom of the foot from heel to toes.

6. Stroke the top of foot. Gently squeeze and pull each toe.

7. Massage around the ankle using small circles.

8. Finally roll the leg between your hands.


Back Massage:

1. Place your baby on their stomach horizontally in front of you.  Keep their hands in front of them, not at their side.

2. With both hands, massage using with forward – backward strokes, alternating between both hands along the back of your baby.

3. Gently rub your hands from the neck to your baby’s bottom using a small amount of pressure.

4. With your fingers, make circular movements, especially on the muscles next to the spine.


When to avoid baby massage:

Remember, massaging your baby should make them feel happy, comfortable and relaxed.  You should consider the following before attempting massage:

1. Avoid massage after meals / feedings

2. Avoid waking your baby from their sleep for a massage

3. Avoid massaging when your baby is sick

4. Avoid forcing the baby into a massage

5. Avoid positions that force the baby to be uncomfortable

As baby massage helps parents to build a strong bond with the baby, we highly recommended that baby massage is done by the parents of the baby alone, not by a therapist or someone other than the parents.


For skincare tips, try our article Protecting Baby's Skincare.

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  1. Agnes Pokua Darko says:

    Very educative

  2. Beckytah says:

    I think adding photos to the massaging techniques will help mums learn it easily