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Infant massage benefits

A relaxing massage is a great way to bond with your infant. Here is why (and how) you can make massage an integral part of your infant’s daily routine. – Gayathri Kumar

Infant massageBefore a massage

Right place. Select a room in the house which is draftfree. Ideally choose a sun-lit room and place a clean mat/ towel on the floor for the massage. A table or bed is also suitable.

Right time. Good time for a massage is before or after a bath. If your infant is fussy during any particular time of the day, shift the time of the massage session accordingly. A good nighttime massage also ensures deep sleep.

Right oil. If you are giving the massage before a bath, I recommend bath oils such as coconut or olive. The best after-bath massage oils are almond and other branded baby oils. They are easily absorbed by the skin and not too greasy. Good quality baby lotions and absorbent creams are equally beneficial.

Right posture. Newborns are comfortable when cradled on the lap (tailor sitting) or when placed in the crevice of outstretched legs. Older infants like eye-to-eye contact with the mother during a massage and thus show a preference for lying down facing the mother. You should make sure you have back support and seated comfortably for a hassle-free and calming massage session

The massage

Step 1. Remove the infant’s clothes and pour oil into the palm of your hand.

Step 2. Start with the feet. Hold one foot and milk the leg in smooth, successive movements. Alter between fast and slow movements depending on her preference. Move from ankle to legs and ride up to the thighs. Next hold the leg upright and do the squeeze and roll movement. You can count, sing or just talk to her as you massage. Finish off the legs by doing short thumb pressing moves with your hand encircling the limbs.

Step 3. Move on to the abdomen. Slide your entire palm and fingers in circular motion working downwards from ribs to the bottom to the abdomen. Use short clockwise circular moves to massage.

Step 4. Next move on to the chest. For the chest, slide both hands from the centre to the sides and back again.

Step 5. Rub arms and hands just the way you did her legs. Begin from the arm and finish off with the palms and fingertips.

Step 6. Massage the back next. Draw circles on the baby’s back along the spine with the pads of your thumbs. Massage the back from the top to the bottom and back again in firm finger and hand strokes.

Step 7. Lastly, massage the face. Most infants don’t like their face to be massaged vigorously. So save small circles, light pats and finger tip strokes for the face and forehead.

After a massage

Wrap the infant in a towel and gently wipe off excess oil or lotion. Dress her and breast or bottle feed if she’s hungry. Finally, rock your infant to sleep.

Massage benefits

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Stimulates growth inducing hormones and enzymes
  • Promotes brain development
  • Improves digestion.
  • Boosts parent-infant bonding
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