Infant Massage

LEG

  • Start by holding your baby’s foot gently with one hand
  • With the other hand, apply oil and use long, smooth strokes from toe to hip
  • Alternate hands with each stroke to cover the entire leg
  • Next use a gentle kneading stroke. Twist gently below the knee on the lower leg then move to the upper leg. Never work above and below the knee at the same time or you may hyperextend the knee.
  • Use gentle compression or rubbing both hands together
  • Finish with several long strokes from toe to hip
FOOT
  • Use gentle, but firm, compression on the bottom of the feet
  • Trace between the bones on the of top of the feet
  • Gently squeeze and rotate each toe
  • Use gentle compression on the arch of the foot
  • Gently rotate the ankle in the normal range of motion

ARM

  • Use the same techniques to massage your baby’s arms and hands.
  • Once you reach the shoulder, you can give some gentle compression strokes.

TUMMY - The “I LOVE YOU” Massage

  • Start at the left ribs and stroke down toward your baby’s hip
  • From your baby’s right side stroke to the left side across the belly and then down from baby’s ribs to the hip.
  • Stroke from the right hip up to the ribs across the belly and down to the left hip.
  • From your view it will appear to be an "I", then an upside down "L" and finally an upside down "U" – or I Love You.

CHEST

  • Spread your hands as if you are opening the pages of a book.
  • With flat hands, make a smooth stroke from the sternum (breastbone) to the ribs and pectoral muscles.

FACE

  • With thumbs, smooth out from center of your baby’s face to the side.
  • You can do this along the chin, upper lip, below the eyes, across the eyebrows and across the forehead.
  • After the soft spots (fontanels) are closed, gentle finger compressions on the scalp in a circular motion.

BACK

Position the baby in one of these ways:
  • Hold your baby in the football hold
  • Hold your baby over your shoulder
  • Sit in a recliner or lay in bed and rest baby on your chest. This position gives the advantage that you will have two hands free for massage.
  • Starting with your thumb and index finger, make a series of compression circles from the base of the skull moving down to the tailbone (sacrum). Repeat using your whole hand. Finish by making long "petting" strokes from head to toe.

Infant Massage techniques courtesy Beth Emley, RN, LMT; © Judith Koch