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How to Prepare for Baby Massage

Feb 18, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

In the early months your baby may only have one or two windows of opportunity for massage in a day to choose from, but as they grow these may become more frequent. Often, once your baby has become familiar with the massage experience they will become available more often.

Your baby needs to be in a quiet alert state, which means they are calm and awake, with tummies that are full but not too full from a recent feeding. They should not be too fussy or irritable, and not so tired that they need to go to bed or take a nap.

There are also shorter massage approaches you may wish to consider if time or timing is limited. For a full body massage, you will need about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time.

Preparing for a newborn full body massage

Here are a few tips to get you started with a newborn full body massage:
  • Find a space on the floor in a warmed room. If you will feel very warm in one layer of clothing, your baby should feel comfortable naked.
  • Place a rug on the floor for you and your baby and ensure you have firm support to lean back on in a sitting position. Place a changing mat or yoga mat on top of the rug and cover it with a towel. Have a spare towel or blanket available to wrap baby in if necessary. You may also want to have a diaper, wipes, and tissues on hand for any surprises! Have the oil or lotion you are going to use for the massage nearby.
  • Turn down your phone and let your callers leave a message.
  • Make sure you are dressed in comfortable and light clothing. Avoid long nails or jewelry that could scratch your baby’s skin.
  • Put on some soothing music that both you and your baby might enjoy. It should not be too loud so that you can both still hear each other.
  • You may want to give your baby a warm tub bath before starting your massage. This may enhance relaxation, which is particularly helpful if it’s just before bedtime.
  • When you settle your baby on the massage surface, sit with your legs straddled on either side and draw them in close. This will help your baby feel secure and encourage eye contact.
  • Talk to your baby and ask if they would like a massage. Let them see you open the bottle of oil or lotion, add a small amount to the palms of your hands, and warm it by rubbing your hands together. These are all cues to let them know what is coming. Including your baby in the preparation helps build trust and makes it easier at subsequent massage times for them to be ready and looking forward to what is coming.

Tips for a shorter massage

Sometimes, you don’t have a lot of time to massage your newborn. Here are a few tips for a shorter massage:
  • Adapt the above steps.
  • Always use a safe surface.
  • Always ensure your baby is warm and always ask permission.
  • There are some techniques such as circles on the spot either side of spine that can be massaged through their clothes. You can just massage face and hands or undress the lower half and massage legs and feet.
  • At diaper change times you can massage the abdomen if you are wanting to minimize the discomfort of excessive gas, colic, or constipation.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.