Helping Baby Fall Asleep: How Baby Massage Can Calm Both of You

If you’re like most baby parents, you’ve probably tried just about everything to help your little one fall asleep. Most likely, you’ve found some techniques that work for you and your baby, and some that definitely don’t. Here’s one you may not have thought of that can help you both get some shut eye: baby massage.

Think about it. Who isn’t relaxed by a nice massage? In that respect, your baby isn’t much different than a smaller version of you. Massaging your baby isn’t difficult, especially if she hasn’t started crawling yet, and it can really help her relax and (hopefully) fall asleep.

The techniques used to massage babies are fairly simple. If you feel like you need more instruction than you can get here, there are classes available in most cities specifically designed to teach baby massage.

To begin massaging your baby, lay her on her back. She can wear a diaper, but shouldn’t be wearing anything else. If you want, you can use a light blanket to cover the parts of her body that aren’t being massaged.

When you have her lying down, touch her chest in a gentle way and tell her you are going to give her a massage. Doing this the same way every time will help your baby to eventually associate it with the idea that she is going to be massaged. Babies respond well to familiar actions and rituals, and this can actually help your baby relax in and of itself.

Next, moisten your hands with some baby lotion or oil. You only need a little. Look directly into your baby’s eyes, and maintain eye contact, gentle talking or singing to your baby throughout the massage.

Start with the head. Massage baby’s forehead, face, and ears using gentle, circular motions. Your touch should be light, just firm enough so you’re not tickling baby. After you have massaged her head, work your way down.

Massage baby’s shoulders, chest, and tummy before moving on to his arms and legs. Continue to use gentle, circular motions. Generally speaking, it is best to keep your hands in contact with your baby the whole time you are massaging her, making the massage like one fluid motion.

After you have massaged the tummy, move back to the arms. Massage them all the way down to the hands, and then massage the palms of baby’s hands, followed by each finger, massaged separately. Then, do the same for the legs, feet, and toes.

After you have massaged baby’s entire front, you can turn her over and repeat the process while she lies on her tummy, if you like. Some babies like being on their stomachs more than others, so this is optional. Remember, the whole point is to help baby relax, so if your baby shows that she doesn’t like having a particular part of her body massaged, skip that part and massage the parts that she does like.