How To Massage A Baby
Here are some baby massage tips and techniques to help you prepare to safely and gently massage your baby, while making sure the moment means more.
NOTE: Don't massage your baby if he's sick or if he's just been immunized—the area of the injection may still be sore.
Use Oil When Massaging Your Baby
When massaging your baby, use a small amount of an appropriately formulated oil, like JOHNSON’S® baby oil —enough for your hands to glide comfortably over your baby’s skin.
Massaging your baby with oil reduces friction, helping make your strokes smoother and more rhythmic. In a study comparing 1-month-old infants massaged with oil versus infants who were not, infants who were massaged with oil showed less fidgeting, less grimacing and less stress behavior (mouthing and clenching fists).
But be careful when choosing an oil to use on your baby’s skin. Natural oils that aren’t specifically formulated for your baby’s skin, like store-bought cooking-grade olive oil, may damage the skin barrier, potentially drying out your baby’s skin. Pure pharmaceutical grade mineral oil, like that used in all of JOHNSON’S® baby oils, supports the protective function of the skin barrier and helps prevent water loss, relieving symptoms of dry skin while not clogging pores.
It’s best not to apply oil to irritated or red skin. If a rash develops, discontinue use. Always read the label before using any products.
WARNING: Keep all products out of reach of children. Keep any baby oil out of children’s reach to avoid drinking and accidental inhalation, which can cause serious injury. Should breathing problems occur, consult a doctor immediately.
The Power of Scent and Massage
Your baby’s sense of smell begins 28 weeks into pregnancy, before he ever leaves the womb! Of all the senses, smell is the most linked to memory, so smell triggers more emotionally vibrant memories than any of the other senses. And enjoyable and familiar scents have been shown to improve your baby’s mood and alertness.
Consistently using the same fragranced baby oil during your baby’s massage, like JOHNSON’S® baby oil, may not only evoke your child’s warm feelings of time spent with you later in life, but may also help your baby recognize, as soon as you smooth on that first bit of oil, that massage time has started and he can now relax and engage fully with you.
Skin-to-skin contact, or what’s known as “Kangaroo Care,” is a powerful practice that has particular benefits among premature and low-birth-weight infants.
For these infants, research has shown that skin-to-skin contact can promote caring relationships with mom and dad, enhance thinking skills, increase likelihood of breastfeeding and reduce the number of days spent in the hospital.
Through massage, you can gain increased awareness of how your baby communicates. You'll learn to read his likes, dislikes, desires and emotions. You'll learn the best time for cuddling, playing and relaxing. And your relationship will grow as you and your baby will discover what is best for you both.