A Guide to Baby Massage by Jayne Russell
We all love a foot massage – but for babies?
Despite your baby reclining in super comfy Inch Blue’s, while you are on your feet all day in uncomfortable shoes, they still love a good foot rub!
If you are new to baby massage the feet are a great place to start. Most babies really love foot massage and find it especially soothing. Here are the benefits:
- Increasing body awareness
- Promoting relaxation
- Stimulating development and boosting the immune system
- Encouraging interaction
They are used to their feet being handled with all that undressing for nappy changes and their feet are easily accessible so you can give them a little massage without having to fully undress them. Babies feet can often feel cold as their bodies prioritise blood to their core. Massage can help to warm them up nicely - but be sure your hands are warm before you start!
For the full on feet treat, all you need is a comfortable place to lay your baby plus some oil to massage and you’re ready to go! A waterproof mat with a soft towel on top works well, or just on your lap is fine if more practical. A bottle of oil with a flip-top or pump cap is ideal to control the amount used and avoid spills.
But which oil is ok for babies? The International Association of Infant Massage recommends “babies be massaged with a high quality, preferably organic, unscented, cold pressed vegetable oil”. Our Nom Nom Baby Oil with Starflower for massage and cradle cap has been created to fit the bill perfectly and is available in full size or as part of our Mini Set if you’re travelling light.
Before you begin, make eye contact, place a resting hand on your baby and ask if they are ready. Observe their body language and behaviour to determine whether they are happy for you to continue.
Work intuitively and don’t worry, babies love to be touched so you can’t go wrong! You can use a variety of massage movements from stroking over the top of the foot, pressing all over the sole and massaging in small circles around the ankle. Massage their toes between your thumb and forefinger “this little piggy” style by gently squeezing and rolling but don’t pull on them.
A few other things to be aware of:
- Avoid massaging over skin that has cuts, recent bruising or is sore and remember feet are one of the most ticklish parts of the body so you may need to adjust your pressure.
- Babies, especially those born prematurely, may have had a lot of heel pricks and can associate them with pain. If so, start by simply holding their feet and talking before progressing, when they are ready, to gentle strokes which generate positive feelings.
- We are all used to using our thumbs ends for messaging but when massaging, use the pads of your thumbs. It feels more pleasant and keeps thumbnails out of the way!
- Let your baby guide you and massage only as long as they are happy. Watch and listen for their cues and leave it for another time if they aren’t in the mood.
Finally, talking or singing to your baby while you massage makes it even more fun for both of you!
Happy massaging - happy feet!
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a baby massage instructor and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Read more about baby massage at www.nomnomskincare.com