Infant Massage - Tips to Help You and Your Baby Thrive
Updated: May 7
Registered Massage Therapist
Certified Infant Massage Therapy Instructor
Certified Infant and Pediatric Massage Therapist
Ladie Ramos has been a Massage Therapist at Advanced Vitality for over five years. In this time, she completed her certifications in prenatal massage, pediatric massage, special populations massage, and continues to further her knowledge, expertise and experiential learning. She is committed to giving back, and is currently on faculty teaching the next generation of registered massage therapists.
Research has shown that babies who receive a 15-minute massage a day, have improved weight gain, increase in food intake due to better GI functioning, decreased gastric retention and abdominal pain, and a better sucking reflex.
Including the above, there are several others benefits of Infant Massage, such as
Promote relaxation and reduce constipation and gas
May help with weight gain by improving circulatory and digestive movements, flexibility, muscle tone and symptoms of colic
Pain relief from teething, congestion, growing pains and muscular tension
Improvements in the use of all senses, verbal and non-verbal communication
May help infants reach developmental milestones
Improved sleep patterns and overall health
Infant massage can also promote bonding and attachment between the infant and caregiver as they develop trust and respect.
WHEN SHOULD I MASSAGE MY BABY?
Traditional massage techniques can start when your baby is around 4 weeks old. You ideally want to wait at least 30-minutes after feeding. Many parents/caregivers incorporate infant massage into a nightly bedtime routine for those who are slightly older.
How do I know that my baby wants a massage?
Babies are just like adults, and they can give you cues. These are called engagement and disengagement cues.
Engagement Cues: A baby who is in the mood to play, learn or feed will show the following cues:
Babbling and talking
Looking at you
Smiling, pursing lips, raising eyebrows
Reaching for hands
Grasping for things
Disengagement Cues: When a baby needs a break, they will use these cues to tell you that they are tired, gassy or starting to get overwhelmed:
Cry and fuss
Loss of eye contact
Yawning, sneezing, hiccups
Pulling away, squirming or kicking
WHAT TYPE OF LOTION/OIL SHOULD I USE?
Using an oil or lotion for infant massage is not necessary. If using an oil or lotion, it is best to use the following:
Edible (such as fruit and vegetable oils)
Cold pressed oils
Remember to do a five-minute patch test on a small area first!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN INFANT MASSAGE SESSION
You want to create a calm atmosphere (i.e., lights, sounds and temperature). Make sure you as a parent/caregiver are in a calm state (your baby can sense your energy).
If possible, complete the massage on the floor using baby’s favourite blanket for safety. Bring some of baby’s favourite toys close by for engagement and prepare yourself (i.e., breath – calm and relax yourself before beginning).
HOW TO PERFORM INFANT MASSAGE
First, you want to warm your hands and engage baby with sounds. If using oil/lotion, apply to hands and rub together creating a “swishing” sound. Engage your baby by wiggling your hands and making sounds so your baby engages. Next, ask baby “are you ready for your massage?”
Keep eye contact with your baby while preforming the massage
Touch and pressure should be gentle (i.e., as if you are picking tomatoes at the grocery store)
Strokes should be rhythmic (uninterrupted)
INFANT MASSAGE TECHNIQUES
Repeat each technique three times on each side of body.
We start with the legs as they are the least sensitive area of the body and therefore, we will not overstimulate. While completing the massage, watch for sensitivity.
Apply nurturing touch to the legs with gentle pressure and holds
Hugs & Glides
Start at the top of the thigh, do two hugs on the thigh and gently glide down to the rest of the leg, hand should be in a c-shape
Avoid pressure on the knee
Use your thumb on the bottom of the foot and stroke from heel to the bottom of each toe
Repeat on top of foot from the toe toward the ankle
Using fingers, gently hug each toe
Support the ankle and gently move the ankle in a circular motion one direction, and then switch to the other direction
Gently stroke down from the hips to the toes
Apply nurturing touch to the shoulders with gentle pressure and holds
Hugs and Glides
Take the arm, with your hand in a c-shape and apply gentle glides from the arm to the wrist
Avoid pressure on the elbow
Take the hand and gently rotate the wrist in a circular motion one direction, and then switch to the other direction
Wait for baby to relax and open their hand
Apply thumb kneading as if your drawing circles on the palmar aspect of the hand
Butterfly’s and Pizza’s
Gently stroke to the top part of the hand towards the wrist in either a butterfly or pizza pattern
Hugs and Traction
Take each finger and gently hug and pull
Do not do this technique if your baby has a history of epilepsy/seizure disorder
Stroke down from the arms, all the way to the finders
Note: This is good for congestion and coughs
Place both hands together over the sternal region
Draw a heart on the chest to the belly button - open out your hands slowly, stroke outward and lightly flatten the palms over the chest
Place on hand flat across the top of the chest
Stroke it gently down to their thighs (like a water wheel)
Repeat motion alternating hands
Note: This is good for constipation
Place your hands on baby’s abdomen
Gently stroke abdomen in a clockwise motion, starting on the left side, to remove any blockage in the intestine
I Love You
Start the stroke on baby’s left side of abdomen to clear rectum, repeat 3x
Then go across the top of the abdomen (right to left) and finish with a down stroke “L”
Then, finish with an upside down “U”
Finish the abdominal massage with gentle strokes from the chest to the ankle
Note: Use any position that is comfortable (i.e., holding baby against your own chest or lap)
Apply nurturing touch to the baby’s back
With alternating hands, gently stroke/sweep down from shoulders to the buttock region
With alternating hands (or one hand), glide back and forth across the baby’s back, from the upper back all the way down to lower region – do it slow and gentle!
Avoid putting pressure on the baby’s spine
Sun and Moon
Gently use finger pads to draw circles up and down baby’s back
With fingers spread apart, gently stroke down the baby’s back
Glide down from the shoulder all the way to the legs
OTHER TECHNIQUES AND EXERCISES
Hold knees to tummy
With knees bent, circle knees to tummy
Shake it out
Clear the sinus -static pressure on the sinus region for congestion
Intraoral – gum massages, teething
Know some baby rhymes to sing while doing the massage
Make it fun and playful
Create or incorporate stories
Use toys to promote movement
Check Out the Full Workshop Video
If you would like to find out more information or book an appointment, contact us!