Infant massage

Many caregivers use infant massage to relax and promote the emotional bond with their baby. It is also used for treating babies with colic, although research is inconclusive on its effects.1 Used before an anticipated crying episode, massage may relax your baby and possibly prevent or lessen the duration or intensity of crying. Massage may also comfort your baby after crying has started to make the episode shorter. Many hospitals or child care centers provide classes on infant massage.

Massage methods vary, but general recommendations stress finding the appropriate setting and using appropriate techniques.

  • Find a time when you are relaxed and won't be interrupted. Be sure the baby is neither full nor hungry.
  • Find a comfortable location and position. The room should be warm. Lay the baby on his or her back on a towel on a bed, the floor, or your lap.
  • Use a warm (not hot) natural oil such as vegetable or olive oil. Slowly rub a little over the baby's body. Move your palms in clockwise, rhythmic circles on the baby's abdomen. Use only light pressure.
  • Be sensitive to your baby. A newborn may enjoy only 2 to 5 minutes of massage.
  • Do not massage a sick or feverish child.

Citations

  1. Lucassen P (2007). Infantile colic, search date January 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

Last Updated: June 9, 2009

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