How to massage your baby – a step-by-step guide

Six key baby massage techniques, shown to us by massage therapist Susan Patterson Smith


Massaging your baby’s toes and feet

Before you try any of these baby massage techniques, make sure you read the essential baby massage advice in our article on skin-to-skin contact. This will explain when to attempt baby massage, and other vital set-up tips.


Use index finger and thumb to gently rotate each toe in a circular motion. On the sole of bay’s foot, just above the heel, gently press with your index finger. As in reflexology, the foot is considered to have relex points that relate to areas of the body. Above the heel relates to digestion.


Massaging your baby’s legs

Hold your baby’s ankle with one hand and cup the other hand around top of baby’s thigh. Move cupped hand smoothly down towards her foot. Change hand holding baby’s ankle when moving to the other leg. This is a relaxing move. An upward stroke, from ankle to thigh is invigorating.


Massaging your baby’s head

If your baby’s birth was traumatic, avoid this. Otherwise, gently press your baby’s head and press very lightly around his skull. Alternately, stroke his head, starting from the crown and moving towards his forehead; then stroke from crown to the nape of neck.


Massaging your baby’s back

Place hands vertically (fingers pointing up towards his head) on your baby’s back, near nape of neck. Stroke down to his buttocks, or all the way to feet. Ensure hands are either side of spine (not on it) and don’t press. This is a sleep-inducing move.


Massaging your baby’s tummy

Place both hands, palm down, on your baby’s torso horizontally (fingers pointing in towards each other or overlapping). Start just above belly button. Use one hand to make a gentle downward stroke to his bladder. Then start a downward stroke from belly button to bladder with other hand. Repeat six times. This is good for wind and colic. You can repeat up to 12 times if your baby suffers from either.


Massaging your baby’s fingers, hands and arms

Gently hold tip of your baby’s finger and move it in a circular motion. Open hand and stroke out from palm to fingertips. Like toes, fingers are reflex points related to sinuses. For arms, hold baby’s wrist in one hand. Cup your other hand at baby’s shoulder and pull gently down to his wrist. This is calming. From wrist to shoulder is invigorating. Change hands for your baby’s other arm.

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