The benefits of baby massage
Touch is a vital form of communication for babies, and baby massage is a great way to strengthen and celebrate that special bond between you.
Baby massage is the gentle and rhythmic stroking of your baby’s skin using your hands. It’s not only beneficial for babies, but parents too. Key baby massage benefits include:
- Becoming more confident when handling your baby
- Being more in tune with their needs
- Bonding parents and babies more closely
- Helping family members and friends to better bond with your baby
- Improving your baby’s sleep
- Keeping an eye on their bodies for any changes to their skin
What you’ll need
If you’ve already assembled your baby skincare essentials kit, you’ll have a soft clean towel for your baby to lie on.
In addition, you’ll need a gentle skin-friendly oil. You can find out more about oils by reading our advice on what products are safe to use. Vegetable oils high in polyunsaturated fats may be gentler on your baby’s skin but avoid nut oils as these can cause an allergic reaction.
How to massage your baby
Before you begin, ask your baby’s permission. This may sound funny, but asking ‘can I give you a massage?’ while rubbing a little oil behind their ears will help get them ready for this new experience. Once you’re both ready, follow these simple steps:
- Gently hold one of your baby’s legs between your palms.
- With one hand supporting your baby’s ankle, place your other hand around the thigh and gently slide it down the leg.
- Swap hands and repeat for the other leg, always using long, flowing strokes.
- Cradle a foot in your hands and stroke the sole of the foot gently from heel to toe using one thumb then the other. Very gently, give each toe a little tug.
- Walk the thumbs gently across the foot like a little caterpillar making its way across a leaf.
- Trace tiny circles on the palms of each hand and finish by giving each finger and thumb a gentle tug.
- Repeat step one, stroking in the opposite direction - from ankle to thigh.
As you and your baby become more used to massage, you will understand what they enjoy and can adapt your techniques to suit them.
How to do massage for a newborn baby
You can begin baby massage as soon as your precious bundle arrives home.
Remember to ensure they are calm and comfortable before you get started and keep your touch light and gentle.
Use the step by step guide above, relax and take your time. Start just by laying a hand on their tummy and see how they respond.
Specific baby massage techniques
Massage can be used to relieve some of the more common conditions your baby might experience.
Baby massage for constipation, colic and wind
The following techniques are helpful for a range of baby tummy troubles, including colic, constipation and excessive wind.
Starting with your fingertip near the belly button, gently trace spirals outwards in a clockwise direction.
Progress towards using your whole palm - very gently and always outwards in a clockwise direction. This motion follows the line of your baby’s digestion and will help ease blockages.
Toes to nose
Place the soles of your baby’s feet together and gently rock their feet towards their nose - taking care to ensure your baby remains comfortable This is a great technique for easing stubborn wind.
Holding your baby’s legs, slowly rock their hips from side to side while trying to keep their back flat on the floor. This is another effective form of massage for constipation.
Holding your baby’s feet, gently move their knees towards the belly and straighten them again - as if they were jumping. Be warned, this technique can result in the immediate release of trapped wind!
When you’re massaging your baby, you have a direct connection. The more relaxed you are, the more beneficial the experience will be for both of you. It really is a lovely way to enjoy an intimate bond.
Whether you’re trying to relieve their constipation or just dealing with an oily, wriggly baby, you might want to keep some Huggies® Baby Wipes handy - just in case! Made with skin-loving natural fibres*, they are safe to use on baby’s skin and approved by the British Skincare Foundation. Find out more by visiting the Huggies® Wipes Products page.
*At least 65% skin-loving natural fibres from wood pulp.
Other useful resources for baby massage