More parents are learning baby massage than ever before. They have heard the news that touch stimulates synaptic connections and can literally improve the child's ability to learn.
Learning baby massage is as simple as playing with your child. We help you add some specific touch patterning to improve the interaction. It improves parent bonds and stimulates the synaptic development of your child. Touch play massage can begin the day your baby is born and interaction with your child can begin from conception.
Get massage smarts' intent is to offer a simple guide for any parent interested in information on infant massage. We highly recommend taking a course or workshop offered by a skilled and certified infant massage therapist.
The bond between infant and mother is a joy to see and one of nature’s fundamental internal programs. Infant massage can reduce stress and begins the moment a mother and her infant are united after birth. The human skin is the largest organ of the body and our connection to the world around us. The mothers’ emotional state and energy is as important during these first moments of physical contact.
We are blessed to live in an age where the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami has performed over 100 studies on the effects of touch since 1992. Dr. Tiffany Fields formed the first center in the world that was solely dedicated to the effects of touch. Dr. Fields research established in a 1996 study that infants who received massage were more alert, awake and active for longer periods of time than the control group who were rocked. They also cried less and had lower cortisol, which is a stress hormone and indicates that the infant's who received massage experienced less stress than the rocked infants from the control group.
Scroll down the page to view several Baby Massage Videos.
Baby Massage and Touch Play Bonding for Your Infant
How to Begin a Baby Massage Routine
- Have a comfortable place to perform the infant massage. Lay out a soft blanket or towel on the floor or a bed. Always make sure the infant is secure and cannot roll off a bed or dressing table. Unscented massage, mineral or baby oil can be used test a small area the day before. Powder is not recommended, although dry skin brushing is also possible with a very light touch. Note: It is important to wash your hands before you begin
- Make sure that the baby is undressed down to their diaper and the room is a comfortable temperature.
- One way to support the baby while massaging is to place the infant on their back facing you while supporting the head with your feet.
- Eye contact and gentle conversation are a positive reinforcement for the child. This work is a form of play that will positively impact physical and emotional development of the infant.
- The amount of support offered the baby will depend on the child's age and own developmental strengths.
- Gentle stroking begins from the baby’s head to their toes with a calm, slow rhythm from one side to the other. Repeat this procedure 3 to 6 times.
- If the baby becomes irritable or cries move to another body part and re-engage the infant with sound and eye contact. It may be necessary to end the baby massage play if the child remains fussy.
Face & Head Routine for Infant Massage
- Carefully cradle the baby’s head and move your fingers over the scalp as if shampooing. Note: Be aware of the fontanel or soft spot on the infants head.
- Rub the ears and then trace the contours of the face across the forehead over the eyebrows and down bringing your hands together at the chin.
- Stroke your fingertips down the nose and out across the cheek bone using both hands during baby massage. Repeat 3 to 4 times
- Using the fingertips of both hands begin with circular motion at the chin out to the cheek into the nose up over the brow and across the forehead and down to the chin. Repeat 3 to 4 times.
Arms Routine for Baby Massage
- Take one wrist into your hand and slowly shake the arm gently up and down in small motions. Use flexed finger tips, and tap along the arm from the elbow to shoulder. Perform technique on both arms. Repeat 2 to 4 times with each arm.
- Next hold the wrist while cupping fingers around the forearm twist back and forth and move up toward the shoulder. Make sure to move with very light pressure over the crease of the elbow. Repeat for both arms 2 to 4 times.
- Massage each of the child’s palms with a circular motion using your thumbs.
- Encircle each finger with your thumb and forefinger continuing to move in from the base of the finger to tip with the child’s hand palm down.
Leg Routine for Baby Massage
- Take one ankle in your hands and gently shake the leg up and down in small motions. Take finger tips and tap along the thigh from knee to hips. Repeat for both legs 2 to 4 times.
- Now take the ankle again and with one hand gently squeeze just above the ankle and glide toward the knee release grip as you pass over the knee and squeeze gently again from knee to hip. Repeat for both legs 2 to 4 times.
- You can also use this same technique from the hip toward the knee and down to the ankle.
- Take the ankle in both hands and move to the base of the heal with several fingers firmly glide from the heal to the tips of the toes. Repeat for both feet 2 to 4 times.
- Focus on the tiny toes by gently rolling each toe. Repeat for both feet.
Video Slide Show of How to Begin Through Baby Leg Routine
Rib Cage & Chest Area Routine for Infant Massage
- Use flexed fingers and both hands to stroke the chest from the breastbone outward towards the sides of the child.
- With both hands palm down on the breast bone move gently out toward the shoulders, then bring your hands together and down toward the center of the breast bone. Repeat 3 to 6 times.
- Transitioning down to the top of the hips, use a light palm pressure to move from one hip up toward the belly button and across to the opposite shoulder. Repeat switching from hip to hip from 3 to 6 times.
Belly Work Routine for Baby Massage
- To continue with the infant massage turn both hands as if you were going to shake the babies’ hand with your thumbs up. With the pinky finger relaxed and the fingers slightly flexed stroke the belly from the rib cage down to the pelvis. Use both hands in rhythm of a repeating figure eight with the stroke moving from the outer edge of the ribs toward the center of the pelvis. Note: If the infants umbilical region has not completely healed this area should be avoided.
- Next massage the entire abdominal region with the fingertips in a continuous clockwise motion. Circle around the belly button, while keeping the fingers flexed and pressure light.
- Now gently walk your fingers slowly around the belly button continuing the clockwise motion. Make sure to continue sound play and conversation as well as eye contact. This technique can facilitate digestion and elimination if the child has been experiencing difficulty.
- Next hold the babies’ feet and knees together and roll them up slowly toward the belly. It is helpful to rotate the hips around to the right a few times while rolling the knees to the belly. This is an additional facilitator for digestion and elimination and will help with the expulsion of trapped gas pockets.
- The last move for the belly is to place one hand on the belly in a horizontal direction and rock the palm back and forth in a slow rhythmic motion. Although it is best to begin a baby massage play session with the head to toe stroking the exact combination of strokes does not have to be followed as a formula. It is ok and encouraged to mix up the routine from time to time. Note: a fussy baby or developmentally challenged baby may be soothed by a regular repetitive routine.
Learn More About Baby Massage with Infant Massage
a Handbook for Loving Parents
The Author of Infant Massage Vimila McClure shares with us how massage benefits infants and growing children by releasing tension and easing discomfort while offering tips for the new parent. Available on Amazon
Back Routine for Baby Massage
- Place the infant on their belly, on their own or supported by your legs, make sure the arms are out in front of the baby.
- Use the palm of your hand with relaxed fingers during infant massage to stroke downward from the neck and shoulders to the buttocks. Use firm pressure and the baby can be stabilized by holding on to the buttocks with one hand. Do both sides of the back along the spine, transition to circular motions with the palm, also moving from the neck and shoulder toward the buttocks. Repeat 3 to 6 times.
- Transition to a stroke with both hands moving across the spine lightly, but in the opposite direction. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
- With your fingertips move along either side of the spine with a circular motion, avoid direct pressure into the side of the vertebra. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
- Concentrate the baby massage up along the shoulders and neck by cupping the shoulder and neck with the hand and use a gentle squeeze and a figure eight movement shifting the pressure from hand to hand and shoulder to shoulder. Repeat for 2 minutes.
- Move to the buttocks and apply pressure in a circular motion with the palm of your hand, shift from one side to the other. 2 to 3 times each side.
Baby Massage Routine Part 2: Chest, Belly, Back and Legs Again
Ending the Baby Massage Play with the Legs or begin with the legs
Then move to the Belly
- Lift each leg by the ankle and shake gently. Use the tips of your fingers and tap up and down the thigh.
- Cup one hand while holding the ankle with the other and glide from the ankle toward the upper thigh with a grasping motion. You can put a little back and forth movement into the stroke by rolling your wrist and forearm. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
- Wringing can be done with both hands moving along the leg from the ankle toward the thigh, place the hands across the leg with fingers on the inside of the leg. Move the hands in opposite directions and perform a wringing motion up the leg.
- Jostling can be used by rolling both legs between your hands and forearm back and forth rhythmically. Repeat twice.
- Massage the bottom of the infants’ foot with the palmer surface of your hand. Pay attention to the toes using your fingers and use a circular motion with fingertips around the ankle.
Completing the Baby Massage
The entire infant massage can take between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the baby. Continue to talk and maintain eye contact with playful sounds and conversation. Baby massage and touch play bonding can be a part of any family play time. Great for both mom and dad and any caregiver. The repetition of infant massage and touch play will help the child with growth and development regardless of the specific caregiver relationship. Grandparents, aunts & uncles, foster parents or adoptive parents can enhance their connection with a child while helping to support the child’s wellbeing.
Baby Massage Promotes Growth and Bonding
The Benefits of Baby Massage
Newborn Massage is important to stimulate the growth and bonding between mother and newborn. A proper massage techniques will help the weight gain of premature newborn and all infants. The following video presentation was produced by the Parental Society of Malaysia and Johnson's Baby. The baby massage benefits and demonstration are presented by Pediatrician and Neonatal Physician, Dr. Anna Padmavathy Soosai from the UK.
Get Massage Smart thanks The Parental Society of Malaysia, Johnson's Baby and Dr. Anna Padmavathy Soosai for this educational video on the benefits of massage from prenatal mother massage to newborn and infant massage.
Baby Massage can Relieve Colic
Get Massage Smart thanks Susan Salvo for her infant massage demonstration and her dedication and contribution to the massage industry. Susan Salvo is a massage therapist and educator.
Check out Author Susan Salvo's Workshops at
Infant Massage Improves Baby Digestion
Dr. K. Balakumari is a Gynecologist and Obstetrician and Practicing medicine for the past 25 years. Dr. Balakumari offers her professional advice on Indian Baby Massage and Bathing procedures for healthy growth and development and digestion.
Get Massage Smart thanks Dr. K. Balakumari for her wonderful baby massage and bathing video. Get massage smart offers YouTube.com videos for their educational value and does not validate their accuracy. Get massage smart does not receive financial compensation for the reposting of these videos and privacy enhanced mode is always selected.
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