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5 Important Safety Tips for Baby Massage

8 March 2023

Infants are extremely delicate and sensitive so it is important to be gentle and loving when performing baby massage and follow these pointers to keep massage safe.

Avoid high surfaces

It’s best to spread a blanket or towel on the floor for baby massage or use a changing mat if you want to combine it with nappy free time. Baby will wriggle during the massage. They can suddenly learn to roll over and you might move them a bit during the massage. You can kneel in front of them and from the floor you can easily bring them onto your lap too.

Use gentle pressure

Infants are very sensitive so think of gentle stroking rather than loosening knots as you would on an adult. At the same time you don’t want to tickle them. Watch closely for reactions. A little oil will help your hands glide over the skin and let them get used to being touched. The pressure you would use to squeeze a tube of cream is enough. Touch is one of the most developed senses at birth so babies really enjoy and respond to it. Avoid massaging the head as baby’s soft spot is still not closed over.

Look for signs your baby is enjoying it

Never force your baby to undergo massage. Even when they are very little, it is good to get into the habit of asking for permission. Rest your hand on their chest and say “would you like a massage?” If they show signs of distress at any point stop and try again another day. They might not like you touching their face so stop and go back to it later on in the massage or another day. Make sure they are not hungry, half an hour after eating is good. They should not be too tired. If they turn their head away from you or stiffen their arms these are signs they are not enjoying the treatment.

Choosing oils

Oil can help fingers glide gently across Baby’s skin. It should not be used on newborns, however, until their skin has developed their natural oils after around one month. Grape seed oil is one of the best to use because it contains nothing which the child will be allergic to and if they put their fingers in their mouth it's a foodstuff anyway. Similarly coconut oil. Avoid using it on the face so it doesn’t go into their eyes or mouth. Nut oils should be avoided in case they are allergic. Essential oils are too strong for Baby’s delicate skin.

Do not massage an unwell baby

Do not massage a baby with a high temperature and fever. If they have any sore spots avoid the area. It may be comforting for them if you massage their hands or feet but watch your baby closely and stop if they show that they are not enjoying it. Baby massage can help colic and colds.

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya

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