The Power of Infant Massage

by Anita Sethi, Ph.d.

The Power of Infant Massage

Infant massage is an age-old practice  — my grandmother, who grew up in India, massaged all her children. Now more popular than ever, it encourages you to bond with your baby, relaxes your newborn’s muscles, helps to increase circulation, and reduces stress. Research says that newborns who receive a daily massage grow more (in both height and weight) during the first few weeks of life. Plus, a 15-minute bedtime massage will help your baby go to sleep faster and rest better.

How to do it Rub a dollop of oil between your palms and start with her feet, so she can see what’s happening. Hold your baby’s foot with one hand, while using your other hand to stroke the length of her leg in a gentle, squeezing motion. Use the same stroke on her arms. Once you get to her back and tummy, begin with both hands at the center, then push out lightly as if you were smoothing a crumpled piece of paper.

The tao of baby massage: Tools of the trade


  • Stay away from perfumed oils. Use something edible, like coconut or almond oil.
  • Keep your baby warm. Cover her tummy with a blanket while massaging other parts, and make sure the room temperature is comfortable.
  • Don’t force it. If your baby doesn’t like it, review your technique and try again later.
  • Pick the right time. Make sure she’s not hungry, tired, or ill  — and that you’re not in a hurry.