Baby Massage: The Basics

Daily baby massage offers so many benefits for your little one. Getting started is quite easy, and massage can be integrated into your daily (or nightly) routine.

Baby massage works by stimulating baby's brain to release feel-good chemicals (including serotonin) and suppress cortisol production (the stress-related hormone). New benefits of infant massage are still being discovered, but we already know the rhythmic and caring touch is associated with stronger immune systems, babies with lower stress hormones, and smarter infants in general. It also helps mommy and baby strengthen their emotional and physical bonds. To learn more about the benefits of infant massage -- read up on the latest studies (including using infant massage to relieve colic and constipation) here and here.

Getting started -- We have been doing infant massage since our baby was one week old. We have integrated it into our nighttime routine, and baby has responded very well. Here is our method:

1. Mood: 
  • Dim the lights
  • Turn on spa music
  • Place a towel down
  • Get massage oil
  • Spray aromatherapy
2. Front Side Massage:
  • Baby relaxes facing upward and making eye contact
  • Start with legs and feet (using light pressure, but make sure not to tickle)
  • Rotate baby's legs and softly bend legs to push up on abdomen
  • Rub thumbs clockwise on baby's feet and legs (adjust to her responses)
  • Move up to tummy and gently rub tummy then shoulders
  • Learn the "I Love U" Motion and other techniques HERE
  • Finish by holding baby's head and rub as if you were shampooing her hair

3. Backside Massage
  • Let baby enjoy tummy time while you apply the same clockwise motions to her legs and back
  • Finish by holding fingers like a rake and softly and slowly massage each side of baby's back (avoiding the spine)

Massage Oil -- You can use regular baby oil for massage or make your own! Whichever you choose, be sure to test it on baby's skin (just a dab on her leg for 24 hours) to make sure there are no allergic reactions. Here is the JellyFishSticks recipe for baby massage oil:

Infant Massage Oil for Essential Oil Mommies
Always dilute essential oils (and extra dilute them for babies)

(For 1 ounce vile)
Fill vile 2/3 with base oil ( I use a light sesame seed oil for our kiddos)

Instructions for 1/3 Essential Oil Mix
2 parts carrier oil (I use vitamin E)
1 part essential oil
  • Vanilla
  • Lavender
All of the extra dilution will make the scent very very faint, which is nice for baby massage.

Happy Massaging!

Citation Links:
Mayo Clinic
Parents Magazine