Massage Preparation

Rumination & Education

When is the best time to massage your baby?
Well this depends on their mood, age, what’s happening in your home. A younger baby won’t ‘tolerate’ as much massage as an older baby in general because their ‘window of opportunity’ is less. They spend more time feeding and sleeping than an older baby. But it’s the quality of touch, not the quantity, remember!
If you’ve got older children then fitting the massage in around their schedule may be challenging. I’m all for getting them involved though! They may ask for massage too or you could get a doll/teddy and you can massage your babies together!
it’s a lovely addition to a bathtime routine but make sure your baby isn’t over stimulated at bedtime. A bath may be enough excitement!
Have a read of the ‘behavioural states’ below for more detail.
  • Behavioural state This is up to the individual parent as to what ‘mood’ your baby is most receptive to massage. In general, babies are more responsive in the ‘quiet alert’ state. See below for more information
  • Room Temperature The room must be fairly warm as your baby is not clothed. Watch for signs of discomfort e.g. goose pimples
  • Lighting You may want to dim the lights, make sure there are no spotlights on the ceiling
  • Quiet Environment This is your time with your baby so turn off the TV, mobile ‘phone and give him or her your full attention. If you want to use relaxing music then this is fine as your baby will relate that music to the relaxing experience of the massage.
  • Towel, waterproof mat or changing mat You may also want to keep some wipes and tissues nearby for those little ‘accidents!’
  • If you have a prescribed cream for your baby for a skin condition then use this. See my post about what oil to use
  • Relaxation It’s important that you are relaxed too. Try some deep breaths or stretching before the massage
  • Asking permission Always ask your baby permission before the massage. Remember to ‘swish’ the oil between your hands and make eye contact with your baby, asking “would you like a massage?” After a few times your baby will make the connection with these movements and sounds and gives them a chance to say ‘no’ through non verbal communication and gives them a choice. We want our children to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy touch and to encourage the right to decline any unwanted touch.
  • Go ahead and massage! Enjoy the massage with your baby and once you have learned the routine you can adapt it to your baby’s needs. Taking the time each day to massage will strengthen the bond you have with your baby not to mention the numerous physical and emotional benefits from baby massage.

Behavioural States

Deep sleep Lies quietly without moving; eyes are firmly closed; breathing is deep and regular with no motor activity; baby may have brief startles but will not rouse; in this state growth hormones are active.
Active (light) sleep Moves while sleeping; startles at noises; eyes are firmly closed, but there may be slow rotating movements of the eyes, as this state is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep; bodily twitches and irregular or shallow breathing may be apparent; facial movements include frowns, grimaces, smiles, twitches, mouth movements and sucking; it is thought that brain growth and differentiation may occur during active sleep.
Drowsy state Eyes may open and close, but look glazed in appearance; may doze; arms and legs may move smoothly; breathing is regular but faster and shallower than in sleep; babies in this state may be stimulated to a more alert, responsive state.
Awake, alert state Body and face are relatively quiet and inactive with bright shining eyes.  Sights and sounds will produce predictable responses.  In this state the baby can be very rewarding for parents.  This is the state in which your baby is most amenable to play and massage.
Alert but fussy state This is a transitional state to crying; available to external stimuli and may be soothed or brought to an alert state by attractive stimuli; if stimuli are too much, may break down to fussiness; movements are jerky, disorganized and these movements may produces startles in themselves.

Cries, perhaps screams; sets off automatic responses of concern, responsibility and guilt in parents; this is the most effective mode for attracting a caregiver; different types of cries communicate hunger, pain, boredom, discomfort and tiredness.


Adapted from ‘The Earliest Relationship’, by T. B. Brazelton & B. G. Cramer


Posted in Baby Massage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *