A Loving Touch—The Benefits of a Baby Massage

November 2014 View more

iStock_000020751596Large_800pxAt birth, touch is one of the most developed of the five senses. The power of a loving touch between a parent and child, on a regular basis, can bring about enormous health benefits. Over time, your baby can become a better eater and a better sleeper with a boosted immune system.

Not only is this a relaxing time for you, but when you massage your baby, you are also bonding with your baby through eye contact, skin contact, body scent and vocalization. According to researchers, massages can also ease tummy troubles and teething pain. It can strengthen digestion, circulation and gastro-intestinal systems.

As you massage your baby, you’re stimulating the central nervous system which can have significant health benefits. For example, the brain produces the feel-good chemical serotonin, and less amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. In turn, your baby’s breathing and heart rate slow down and your baby relaxes. “Massage is a wonderful drug-free solution for colic. As simple as bending the baby’s knees and pushing gently toward the chest five or six times, promotes the immediate gas release,” said Dale Anne Wright, Spa Technician, Edward Health & Fitness Centers.

Wright recommends using organic grape seed oil, which is water soluble, as a massaging lotion. Also, never give your baby a massage if she has a fever, a fracture or an open wound. And wait at least 48 hours after being immunized.


Find a few minutes when you’re relaxed and your baby is quiet but alert. Wright recommends you begin by rubbing a small amount of oil on your hands and then gently hold your baby’s hands and rub her palms with your thumbs until she gazes into your eyes.

Legs: Take your baby’s foot and begin milking the leg from the hip down to the foot three times, make long strokes on the foot three times and then do each toe. Do the same to the other leg.

Chest: With one hand firmly on one side of the chest, stroke down the opposite side from the shoulder to the waist three times. Repeat on the other side.

Stomach: With three fingers, draw a ring clockwise around the belly button three times. Then do the “I Love You” stroke. Start on the left side with three fingers. Move from the ribs to the waist, make a capital “I”, then go across the tummy below the ribs down to the left side, capital “L”, and then up the right side, across the tummy and down the left side, capital “U”. Do this stroke three times.

Arms: Take one arm and work down from the shoulder to the hand. Stroke the palm and each finger. Do the other arm. Gently turn your baby over.

Back: Hold one side of the back while stroking your fingers down her back three times. Do the other side. Then work your way down each leg to the foot. Place your baby on her back.

Head: No oil is needed for the head. Stroke the baby’s head while making little circular motions.

Face: Stroke two fingers across the baby’s forehead from left to right three times. With one finger, move along the cheek bone up and around the ear. Do this three times. Then do the other side. Take her ear between your thumb and index finger. Gently move along the outside of the ear three times. Repeat on the other ear.

Cradle your baby and enjoy this precious moment. “Infants know their mother’s smell and voice, but touch is life-preserving. Infants learn that they are protected and loved with regular massage,” said Wright.