Massage Is Beneficial At Any Age

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Massage Is Beneficial At Any Age

  Autor Physiotherapist Anca Gabrian Data: 08.08.2005

Massage Is Beneficial At Any Age

It is never too early to enjoy the beneficial effects of the massage, even if you are a baby! In many parts of the world newborn massage is a common custom that became routine for the new parents.

Touching is very important for mother-child relationship, conferring love, warmth and safety. Also, recent studies and experiments show that massage helps babies to relax, eat and sleep better, relieves colic, etc. Regular massaging of premature babies increases the pace of development, increases appetite, improves sleep quality and duration.
In general, massage is a pleasure for both parties (parent and child), and its effects contribute to a harmonious psychosomatic development of the newborn.
When working with infants you should always consider the fact that their body is growing, very fragile, and therefore they should be treated with delicacy.

Preparation to perform the massage is very important. Choose a time period where you and your child are relaxed and calm. For the child, massage should not be performed 30 minutes before or after a meal, or if it is tired. The proper massage period: one hour after eating or after bath time (if it is not sleepy!). You should also choose a time when mommy or daddy (masseur) is able to put thoughts and issues aside for 20-30 minutes: the child is based on non-verbal communication and will receive the mood of the person that touches it.

The atmosphere in which the massage is performed is also important. Do not try to massage your baby and watch the news at the same time! You can use a special or ambient music for massage, can reduce or extinguish the lights. You need also a warm room because the baby will be naked and its body does not regulate well the temperature. Make sure that before starting the massage your clothes are suitable for room temperature and as comfortable as possible!

The area that the little will sit on needs to be soft, warm and safe. There is not a good idea to use wool accessories, they can tickle or disturb the child and in contact with the massage oils can cause allergic reactions. The substance with which you work should be chosen carefully: most massage commercial oils contain perfumes and other chemicals. While massaging there is the possibility that the baby tastes the oil, putting, for example, the rubbed hand in the mouth, so we must ensure that the oil massage is edible...! Essential oils can be used after 6 months of age. Mineral oils are not recommended because it is difficult to absorb and leave the skin oily. The best are vegetable oils that are lightweight, non-sticky and quickly absorbed (almond, olive, grape seed, calendula, vitamin E, etc.). Do not use powder! 

These are the preparatory steps for massage. Still you have to ask your child if it wants the massage! And this may seem silly to you, but think about: would you make a massage to an adult without his/her permission? How can I tell if my baby is not in a mood for massage? Well, if it cries, turns on all sides trying to escape, puts its hands and feet in defensive position, becomes restless, always moving, it is clearly irritated by the manoeuvres of the massage and I think its message is clear! Please do not massage your child against its will! You can try again later. Massage should be a pleasant experience for both!


  • Make sure you have everything you need at hand;
  • Wash your hands;
  • Breathe deeply and regularly;
  • Undress the baby and put a diaper under its buttocks in case of accidents....!;
  • Shake your hands, put enough oil in your palms and rub them apart to warm your palms and the massage oil also.


Newborn's massage is different from that of the adults. It is not done by force, but neither too easy, not to tickle it! A standard recommendation in this regard: close your eyes and press your finger on the lid, stopping when the pressure becomes uncomfortable. This is the ideal pressure for baby massage. For older children stronger moves are recommended. On the body, always massage from left to right (i.e. from right to left of the baby), in the digestion sense. Use your skilled hand for most movements and the other for support, repeating each manoeuvre 3-5 times steadily. Position yourself so that you have easy access to all parts of child's body, to sit comfortably and not overload your spinal column. If you stay seated on the floor with legs stretched and closed, you can sit the child on your legs. If you sit with your feet distant, you can sit it on a thick towel between your feet; if you have the baby sitting on an arranged surface, find a comfortable position.


You can start by playing with your child, establishing whether it has or not the mood for massage. You can hold it close to your body a few minutes to feel your body heat, familiar smell and your breathing rate. These things will create a feeling of safety and will calm it down. Start by gently touching it, as playing. Usually, you can massage initially the front of the body, from head to feet. Use long movements, slow, light, that do not scare it or take it by surprise. Do not use sudden movements! If you notice that certain moves or massaging certain areas bother your child, do not insist! No matter if you do not perform all the massage manoeuvres described or if you change their order.

Smear with heated oil in your hands the front of the body, and then focus on the head. Movements are made from inside out. Using one finger (index or thumb) of each hand, walk slowly, with linear and circular movements, on the forehead, temples, eyebrows, eyelids, nose, cheeks, mouth area and ears. Repeat each exercise 3-5 times, then move down slightly to the side of the neck (neck movements are performed with great care, without pressure!), then the rear side. Use downwards moves, from head to body. Gently put both hands on the child's neck and let them slide off its shoulders lightly, then down to the arms, forming a ring of thumb, on one side, and the rest of the fingers, on the other. Let your hands slide slowly to the elbow joint, wrist to palm. You can also rotate your fist several times clockwise and vice versa: with one hand support the forearm of the child above the wrist and with the other run slow fist rotations. Repeat the same sequence on the other arm. After you've finished, go back the same route to start massaging the chest and abdomen. These areas will be massaged from right to left of the baby in a circular motion, starting under the ribs. Also, you can make easy smoothing moves, like comfort, with your palm, on the entire width of the abdomen. Do not massage the genital area!

Then lower to the legs: form with your hands rings around them and walk slowly to ankle and back. Take then a leg with one hand above the ankle joint, and with the other run rotations of it, then climb to the thigh, letting your hand to slip slowly on the oil. Do not exclude the massage of the sole: draw circles around internal and external ankles, apply pressures on the sole, with your fingertips; draw, with your thumbs, lines that leave from the heel and stop in each finger that you can play leisurely: massage, shake, spin! Be careful though, because of oil, the fingers are slippery! Perform the same sequence on the other leg also.

So you have finished massaging the front of your body! Let the child play or do what he wants for a few minutes, while noting if he has not become agitated or sleepy. If everything seems okay, turn back the baby on his tummy with care; some children like this position, others do not; if your baby does not like the tummy position, try to keep him on your chest. Start by anoint his body with oil, using slow and long movements. Gently massage the entire foot from toes to buttock, with all your palm, using successive movements, hand after hand. Place your hands under the nappy fold and then gently massage the bottom, with successive movements, going to the back and shoulders. The column should not be massaged, you can just put your hands over it a few moments to send the warmth to the child. Perform slow movements from the column to the side, on the entire length of the back; then put your hands perpendicularly to the column, fingers near it, and walk back and forth, down to the buttock also. In return you can draw circles with a few your fingers along the column, on the entire back, to the shoulders.
To finish the massage using long movements, with a slow pace, over the entire body as you caress him on the back and then the other side.

Now, according to parents statements already experienced in performing the massage, your baby should be happy, drowsy or asleep...!

So much you can learn from a written description of a simple massage sequence.
If you want to know more, you can participate in massage courses organized in maternity hospitals or clinics, or you can buy videos or DVDs that exemplify each massage manoeuvre much better.

Read the English version of this article: Massage Is Beneficial At Any Age