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How to massage your baby’s legs, tummy, chest, arms, head and back

A complete guide for massaging every part of your baby’s body. If You want to massage your baby but don’t really know where to start then fear not; baby massage is made easy with these simple steps:

Create a calm, relaxing environment

  • Choose a time when your baby is content and alert, not tired or hungry.
  • Try sitting on the floor, bed or sofa, with your baby safely on a towel in front of you.
  • Find a position that’s comfortable, gives you good eye contact with no overhead lights and where your baby is warm.
  • It’s up to you whether your baby is nappy-free, but it can help to at least loosen the nappy when massaging the tummy.
  • There are lots of lovely baby massage oils on the market but any plain, vegetable based oil, such as sunflower oil, is perfectly adequate.
  • Your baby may end up ingesting some oil, so you really want to make sure it is safe (petroleum-based oils or oils containing nuts aren’t recommended).
  • You may like to introduce a massage after bath and before bed as part of a bedtime wind-down.
  • Getting started

    Before beginning, ‘ask permission’ by rubbing a little oil between your hands over your baby, and saying ‘can I give you a massage?’ This may sound a little crazy but your baby will become familiar with this visual and audible cue and know that massage is about to start.

    It’s great to massage the whole of your baby’s body using a range of techniques:

    Legs and feet

    1. Carefully hold one of your baby’s legs between the palm of your hands, then gently but securely hold your baby’s ankle and support the weight of the leg.
    2. With your other hand, mould it around the top of your baby’s thigh and then slide it down towards the ankle. The action is similar to milking a cow!
    3. Once you have massaged one leg, swap and massage the next. Soft, flowing strokes are best and it is important to always keep the ankle supported.
    4. The next step is to massage your little ones foot. Support your baby’s foot in two hands and with your thumbs, stroke over the sole of her feet from the bottom of her heels to her toes.
    5. Repeat over and over alternating your thumbs.
    6. The top of the foot can be massaged by gently squeezing her toes between your thumb and forefinger and giving them a little wiggle and applying gentle pressure with the pads of your fingers all around her foot.
    7. Finish by rubbing her feet softly and then repeating the leg massage in the opposite direction. (This time from ankle to thigh).


    1. Remove or loosen his nappy.
    2. Place your handly softly on the base of his rib cage at a 45 degree angle (so your little finger is in contact with him), slowly brush your hand downwards towards the bottom if his tummy as if your hand were an awe on a rowing boat. Hold your hand so your pinky’s edge can move like a paddle across your baby’s belly. Repeat these strokes using both hands in a continuous wheel like movement.
    3. With your finger tips, massage her tummy in circular clockwise movements.
    4. Trace “I Love U” with your fingers: Write the letter ‘I’ down your baby’s left side. Then trace an inverted ‘L’, stroking across the belly along the base of her ribs from her right side to her left and down. Trace an inverted ‘U’, stroking from low on the baby’s right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.
    5. Walk your fingers around his navel in a clockwise direction.
    6. Hold knees and feet together and gently press knees up toward her abdomen.
    7. Rotate baby’s hips around a few times to the right. (This often helps expel gas.)
    8. Place your hand on his tummy horizontally and rock your hand from side to side a few times. Note: Avoid massaging tummy if the cord hasn’t completely healed.

    Head and Face

    1. Cradle your baby’s head in both of your hands, massage her scalp with your fingertips, as if you’re shampooing. (Avoid the fontanel, the soft spot on top of baby’s head.)
    2. Massage her ears between your thumb and index finger.
    3. Trace a heart shape on her face, bringing your hands together at the chin.
    4. Place your thumbs between your baby’s eyebrows, and stroke out.
    5. Again with your thumbs, stroke gently out over baby’s closed eyelids.
    6. Stroke from the bridge of the nose out over the cheeks.
    7. Using your fingertips, massage the jaw in a small circular motion.


    1. Place both of your hands on your baby’s chest and gently stroke outwards from her sternum to her shoulders.
    2. Beginning at her sternum, trace a heart shape bringing both hands up to her shoulders, then down and back together.
    3. In a crisscross pattern, stroke diagonally from one side of your baby’s hip, up and over the opposite shoulder, and back down to her hip.


    1. With one hand, hold your baby’s wrist. Relax her upper arm by tapping it lightly with 2 fingers.
    2. Hold your baby’s wrist with one hand and shape your other hand in a C-shape around baby’s upper arm; stroke from her shoulder down to her wrist.
    3. As though gently wringing a towel, softly stroke down from her shoulder to her wrist with both hands rotating in opposite directions.
    4. Massage her palm by moving your thumbs over and over from the heel of her hand to her fingers.
    5. Stroke down the top of her hand from her wrist to her fingertips. Gently squeeze and pull each finger.
    6. Massage her wrist by moving your fingers in a small circular motion.
    7. To complete, roll her arm between both of your hands


    1. Place your baby on her tummy horizontally in front of you, or lay her across your outstretched legs. Keep her hands in front of her, not at her sides.
    2. With both of your hands on her back, move each of your hands back and forth (keep them going in opposite directions) from the base of her neck to her buttocks.
    3. Hold your baby’s buttocks with one hand and use the other to stroke down from her neck to her buttocks.
    4. Using your fingertips, massage small circles down one side of baby’s spine and up the other. Avoid pressing directly on her spine.
    5. Gently massage her shoulders with small circular motions.
    6. Massage her buttocks with big circular motions.
    7. Holding your fingers like a rake, stroke down her back.

    You may not want to massage your baby’s whole body every time but massaging her legs, tummy and if she likes it, her head are perfect for a calming routine before bed time. If at anytime during massage your baby becomes upset or falls asleep, you should stop massaging immediately. I hope you found this guide to baby massage useful. Please leave a comment to key me know how baby massage is working out for you and take some time to check out my other posts. Thanks for reading!

    What you need to know about baby massage

    Baby massage has become increasingly popular in western culture over the past 20 years or so. It originated from ancient Indian traditions and is also widely used in Africa. There are said to be benefits for both baby and parents, here you can get all the information you need before you get started.

    What are the benefits?

  • First and foremost it is a fantastic way of strengthening your bond with your baby.
  • It is also a great way for partners and Grandparents etc to bond with your newborn.
  • It can help to alleviate the effects of post natal depression and improve the mother/baby relationship.
  • It can help you to become more confident in handling your baby and recognising his/her needs.
  • It raises levels of the feel good hormone oxytocin in both of you which results in a calmer, content, much more relaxed mother and baby.
  • It helps to relax your baby’s mind and muscles before bedtime.
  • The oil nourishes your little ones skin.
  • It can relieve the symptoms of colic or constipation.
  • A face massage can help to ease a blocked nose or blocked ducts.
  • A massage of the gums through the skin can help with teething pains.
  • When is the best time of day to do it?

    There is no wrong time to massage your child, however, for maximum benefit you should try and gauge your little ones mood. The best time is when he is awake and content, don’t start massaging if he is tired or hungry and stop it and try again later If he is turning his head away or stiffening his muscles. Massaging your child after a feed may cause him to vomit so try and give him approximately 45 mins to an hour to digest his milk/food. Baby massage is fantastic as part of a bedtime routine for newborns and toddlers.

    Does my baby need to be a minimum age?

    There is no minimum age for starting baby massage, however, if your child was premature you should wait until her due date before you begin massaging her.

    What oil should I use?

    There is absolutely no need for expensive baby massage oils. In fact, a plain vegetable oil such as sunflower oil is all you need.

    mayoclinic, nct