Baby massage can be healing and therapeutic for you and baby alike. It can help them cry less, sleep better, and even lower levels of stress hormones while helping you bond more with your newborn. If you’d like to give it a try, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Best practice. Wait until at least 45 minutes after baby eats to help prevent tummy trouble or spitting up. Always take cues from your baby. Your little one will let you know what feels good to them. Watch for positive cues like eye contact, smiles, cooing sounds, and relaxed movements with baby’s arms and legs. 

Massage oil. If your little one is wearing only a diaper, use an edible, non-toxic, baby-safe oil to prevent chafing. Check if baby has an adverse reaction to the oil by testing it on a small patch of their skin first.

Set up. Choose a quiet, warm room, especially if baby’s in their birthday suit. Place baby in front of you on a stable, comfortable surface, such as the floor or a bed. When massaging, your touch should be tender. Avoid tickling, which may cause baby some stress. Make long, gentle, slow strokes and try not to press too hard on any one point.

Build your communication. Baby massage is less about muscle manipulation and more about contact in a way that pleases and soothes you both. Feel free to sing softly to your little one. Hearing your voice is another way to help your little one relax and build a stronger bond with you. 

The right strokes. You could start with baby on their front with their head turned to the side. Using your whole hand, fingers together, caress their back, shoulders, arms, and legs. Then turn baby onto their back and repeat on their chest, stomach, arms, and legs.

An aid for a gassy tummy. Massage can help your little one pass gas and feel better. Try massaging in a clockwise direction on baby’s stomach, from their right to left. Start at the top right of their abdomen and stroke across just under the ribs. Next, go down the left side of their tummy, then across and back up to the start. Rub gently in this circular motion to help move along gas and stool in the direction of baby’s intestine.

Skin-on-skin touch and massage can be a positive, bonding, and therapeutic experience for you and baby. Spending a few minutes with your loved one this sweet and tender way is nothing short of blissful.—RG

Read More: The Importance of Infant Bonding