We recommend starting baby massage from 8 weeks. It is prudent not to massage a baby fully before he/she is four weeks old. Although in many cultures parents massage babies from birth, current research suggests leaving a baby’s skin alone for four weeks to avoid any damage. This advice should be viewed within cultural and traditional practice. There are no studies that indicate the right time to massage a baby.
The issue of when massage should begin seems to be culturally determined. It is, however, generally agreed that massage should not take place until 10 days after birth even though in some cultures babies are massaged from birth. It is not clear cut, so we suggest erring on the side of caution and so;
- Avoiding oil massage directly on the skin until 4 weeks after birth (6 weeks if you want to be very cautious)
- Oil massage is recommended from 8 weeks and also this is after babies have received their postnatal check from the GP.
The best time to massage a baby is at a time which is most appropriate for both parent and baby. It is important that both parent and baby are relaxed during the massage. The parent should choose a time to massage where there are unlikely to be other demands on his/her time. There have been a number of studies on the behavioural stages of a baby’s day which are useful for identifying when is the best time to massage a baby. All babies will be different and so there is not a specific time which you can recommend for massage. Studies indicate that babies go through various behavioural stages in their day.
We have listed them below along with descriptions of the baby’s behaviour:
- Quiet Sleep – Baby has eyes closed, deep belly breathing and still.
- Active Sleep – Baby may make noises, may laugh/move, Eyes may move under lids.
- Drowsy – baby’s eyes open and shut or are glazed, unresponsive, baby may return to sleep
- Quiet Alert – The best time to massage baby’s face relaxed, bright open eyes, observant, relaxed limbs
- Active alert – Baby becomes more active, moans, fussing, usually indicating a change is required. There are various reasons for crying, a way to communicate, likely that feeding will happen here, signal for change if ignored baby will console themselves.
The best time to massage a baby is during the quiet alert period as the baby will be relaxed and comfortable. By observing the baby as he/she goes through these behavioural stages, a parent can identify when the most appropriate time is to massage. Being aware of the stages in a baby’s day is also useful for planning activities and keeping in rhythm with a baby’s natural routine.
Blossom & Berry’s mission is to grow babies with love, touch, responsive care and positive interaction. We create nurturing experiences for parents and babies to deepen connection and confidence. We focus on touch as a way to support infant and maternal mental health as we believe this is the foundation for health and happiness. Blossom & Berry was born out of love!
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About Blossom & Berry
Blossom & Berry offers expert training, support & resources on baby massage, yoga and parent and baby wellness for professionals & parents across the world.
Blossom & Berry training is designed to give you everything you need to succeed. It gives you a complete teaching practice and mentorship program in a box.
Our training is the most comprehensive teacher training and business package on the market with no restrictions on what you can do and no ongoing licence fees ever.
“I would love to invite you to join my network of over 1000 teachers across the world sharing the benefits of nurturing touch and connection with parents and babies.”
Gayle Berry – Master trainer and international expert on baby massage and yoga, founder of Blossom & Berry.
Your success is our success and having a transformational and nurturing experience is key.