Baby Massage Best Practice

Long before I had my own kids, I realized how important human touch was through my massage therapy career. Massage is deeply therapeutic, instantly calming and the number one way in my book to enjoy the present moment. 

Over the years and to this day, I have incorporated daily massage rituals with my kids. Just before bed-time is when my kids get to enjoy a daily massage from me. It only takes a few minutes, but it's a special time of day when no words are needed and I get to connect with my babies. 

Beneath you can read some of my best practices when it comes to baby massage. I realize that some of these may read as 'wishful thinking' as we really don't know how baby will react. But if you set aside some dedicated time for the practice of massage, your baby will learn to love it, to trust you and enjoy their one-on-one time with you. 

Ambiance

Get the room ambiance right before you start to apply any lotion by dimming the lights, turning off the TV, and putting on soothing music or just plan on enjoying some blissful silence. Make sure your phone is turned off and you're able to give baby your undivided attention and eye contact for the next 10-15 minutes.

A Daily Practice

Choose a time and place to make a daily practice for skin to skin massage. There's truly no better way to connect with your baby than through gentle touch. You know there are certain times in the day when your baby may be on the crankier side, so choose a time when he or she is typically calm. 

Warm Hands

Ensure you've thoroughly washed your own hands with warm, soapy water prior to massaging your baby. The warmth from your skin will have an instantly calming effect on baby as you apply lotion to his or her skin.

Lotion Ready

Shake the lotion while it's still inside the bottle prior to use. Remember our products are all-natural so it's always good practice to waken them up before applying. 

Getting Baby Ready

Position your baby on a comfortable, clean, warm surface. You can remove all clothing or leave a diaper on. 

A Gentle Start

Prior to applying lotion, begin your massage time by gently patting your fingertips from the top to bottom, starting at babies head and finishing at their feet. You're aiming for this to feel akin to little raindrops falling on your head. Babies are easily mesmerized by any kind of sensation; gentle fingertips tapping all over the skin will be a lovely way to start things off!

Feet First

Rub a small amount of lotion between your hands until it has heated up and gently but firmly cover both baby feet with your warm hands and stay there for a few seconds, while gazing into babies eyes. This is a moment to get grounded for you and baby and really sets the intention of the massage. 

Pressure Points

I love to start baby massage with some pressure points on the feet. Start by pressing your thumbs into the heels of the feet - both at the same time. Maintain the pressure on that one spot for 5 seconds and take your time when you're releasing your thumbs from the spot.

Slowly work up the feet with your thumbs, with pressure points then gently apply pressure to each toe. Obviously, if you have a wriggly baby on your hands, you may need to discern how many pressure points your baby can sit still for! 

Legs

Slowly start working up the legs. If you can imagine how a millipedes legs move in wave-like patterns - this is the idea to follow for your fingers. When you first start massaging the legs, you can use your fingers on the calf muscle side (back) and your thumbs will remain on the shins. There's a lovely middle spot between gentle and firm to find when it comes to how much pressure you apply to the skin.

There's no need to rush as you slowly get to the top of the thighs. Once you're at the top, release any pressure but still remain in contact with the legs as you go back down to the feet. 

Tummy Time

The amount of time you get to spend on the tummy truly depends on baby! You may need to re-apply lotion, ensuring its been warmed before you apply it to the skin.

Sometimes I'll start on the tummy by putting my hands under the tummy and place my fingers on the back. I'll gently apply pressure to the lower back and bring my fingers up around the sides of the body, then to the belly area.

You want to keep all fingers locked side by side and massage in long, slow, flat movements around the belly in a circular motion. 

Chest & Shoulders

Keeping your hands flat, apply lotion over the chest, over the collarbone area and neck. Apply a bit more pressure as your fingers glide over the shoulders towards the back. 

Arms

I like to create an 'O' shape with my fingers and thumbs when I get to the top of the arms. I'll firmly glide from shoulders all the way to the hands, and every other second, I'll give a squeeze as I go.

Once we reach the hands, spend some time working over each knuckle using the same pressure point technique we did on the feet. Although with the hands, you will use your thumb and your forefingers to create the pressure points.

Back Area

At this point you may decide to gently flip baby over and work on the back. Or if you're working with a strong 6+ month-old baby, you may find that he or she will make that decision for you and be rolling all over the place anyway! If you do decide to work on the back, ensure that babies airways are clear and the neck is elongated.

With a newborn baby, you can also flip baby over and use one forearm and hand to support the baby (as if you were winding baby) and use the other hand to perform massage strokes. Avoid applying any pressure to the spine. Instead use two fingers to apply pressure on either side of the spine from its base all the way to the neck. 

Face & Scalp

Baja Baby Unscented Lotion can be applied to the face and scalp, but do ensure to avoid the eye area. You could use the fingertip patting motion we began with to apply. Or you could use both of your hands to cover your babies face with lotion by gently pressing over babies cheek areas, forehead and chin, while leaving the nose and mouth exposed.

When working over the scalp, you can experiment with different types of massage techniques. We want to avoid the delicate newborn fontanel areas, but we can stroke, fingertip tap, or use flat warm light strokes with the palms of our hands over the scalp. 

Finish the massage by spreading your fingertips over the hairline, where it meets the forehead and slowly ease your fingers back. Let them slide over the whole scalp and hair until the hands are completely free of baby.

Final Thoughts

Your disposition plays a huge role in this massage time. With each massage client I had the privilege of working with, I took a moment prior to the session beginning to set my intentions as healing and calming. The same rules apply with baby massage time.

Some babies are more comfortable experiencing massage through their clothes. This is totally fine, just remember that you wouldn't apply lotion over the clothing. Another technique you can try is simply placing your flat, warm palms on their skin and holding in one place. Think about the intentional energy you are sending to your baby - think loving and nurturing vibes.  

If baby isn't in the mood to be massaged, scoop him or her up in their favorite swaddle or blanket and hum and sway. The goal of any massage is for the recipient to feel that they are being cared for. There's no need to insist on completing a massage from start to finish if baby isn't feeling it! Just enjoy the quiet time and use it to see if you can figure out where your babies favorite touch points are located!