You can try baby massage really early, actually from the day your baby is born. Massaging is a great bonding activity, if done right.
Massaging completely newborn babies can be a challenge, though. Many newborn babies absolutely hate being naked and will cry until you put their clothes back on. It is often a lot easier to start when the baby is at least 1 month old.
It’s never too late to start! I gave our 8-year-old son some “baby-inspired massage” when he had a hard time falling to sleep!
Infant massage has many benefits. In addition to being nice and cozy, massaging babies will for example:
- Help the bonding between the baby and parent
- Help the baby and parent to get to know each other and communicate
- Possibly prevent or mitigate colic, wind and constipation
- Help your baby relax and sleep better
- Improve his body awareness
How To Start With Baby Massage
You can start massaging your baby more or less from day one. And to prevent or mitigate tendency to colic, you should definitely start when your baby is around 1 month old.
However, if you didn’t, it is never too late, although it is kind of hard to massage a baby that crawls away…
If you want to try massaging your newborn, experiment with just dressing off the body parts you are massaging, to prevent your infant from protesting too much.
Attend a class
Infant massage is not difficult! But I thought it was a bit tricky the first time especially to know how hard to massage my baby.
Attending a baby massage training is a perfect way to learn how to do it. And it’s fun! But if you can’t find a course that works for you, buy a book or a DVD.
If your baby has some tummy pain (don’t they all in the beginning), massage is a very good idea!
To get an idea of how baby massage is carried out, check the video below.
Warm room temperature
Since babies easily get cold, it is very important to carry out the massage in a warm room.
Really young babies may very well start crying when undressed even if the air temperature is as high as 80F (27 C).
A tip is to choose the smallest room you have, shut the door and put in an extra radiator for a while to get the room temperature up.
A small bathroom or a walk-in closet works well as long as you have enough space on the floor to carry out the massage.
The older your baby gets, the less sensitive he will be to the temperature.
Even if the room temperature is alright, if it is drafty, your baby might not like the situation anyway. Close the window!
Undressing the baby
If you want to give baby massage to an infant younger than 2 months, it might be a good idea to not undress the baby completely from the start. Many newborn babies seem to feel insecure or cold when naked and just cry until dressed again.
Not too hard, not too gently
I think it is very easy to be too gentle when massaging a tiny little baby. Of course you can’t be heavy-handed, but a too gentle touch will only tickle the baby. Be a little bit firm.
If you watch your baby carefully you will soon notice what he or she prefers.
A good, organic baby oil
Choose a good organic oil for the baby massage. And choose one that doesn’t have a strong smell. Use only a few drops at the time. Rub the oil in the palm of your hands to make it warm and start massaging.
Choosing the time of the day
If you attend a class, try choosing a time if the day when your baby is likely to be awake. If you have no routines yet, choose a time that you find convenient.
At home, it may be wise to do the massage in the evening. This can help your baby navigating in the 24 hours of the day – “now it is evening and I will soon be put to sleep”. It can also prevent tummy pain at night.
Take a lot of photos
I keep nagging about bringing the camera everywhere – take a lot of photos… Well, it is so easy to forget, especially with your second or third child.
But the memories are invaluable!