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Bonding with Baby: A Guide to Infant Massage

Based on content from the baby care experts at JOHNSON'S® Baby.

Research shows that infant massage can relax babies, improve their sleep patterns, and calm them when they are irritable. Baby massage should last about 15 minutes. Don't worry if you have only five or ten minutes: even a short massage is good for your baby. Choose a warm, quiet room and play background music if you like.

Using a lotion or oil will help reduce friction and make the massage more soothing. Make sure you use a product that is gentle enough for your baby's skin. JOHNSON'S® Baby Lotion is easy to use, smells great and is hypoallergenic. For extra ease, you may prefer to use JOHNSON'S® Baby Oil because it spreads smoothly. It's also allergy - and dermatologist-tested so it's gentle enough for your baby. Whether you choose lotion or oil, place a quarter-sized amount in your palm and rub your hands together to distribute. Start with your baby lying on his stomach. Then gently rub your hands (make sure they're warm) back and forth six times on each of the following areas for about one minute in each area:

  1. From the top of your baby's head to his neck.
  2. From his neck across his shoulders.
  3. From his upper back to his waist.
  4. From his thigh to his foot and back to his thigh, on each leg.
  5. From his shoulder to his hand and back to his shoulder, on each arm.

Now turn your baby over onto his back so that he is facing you. Move each of his arms gently, flexing it and then straightening it. Exercise each arm and each leg in this way, and then both legs, as if he were pedaling a tiny bicycle, for a total of five minutes. To finish your baby's massage, turn him back on his stomach and repeat the first sequence.

Throughout the infant’s massage, remember to be sensitive and responsive to your baby. Learn to recognize when your baby tells you that he's not interested or that he's had enough. Your baby might do the following to tell you he would rather be doing something else:

  • turn his head away.
  • "crunch up" his forehead.
  • suck in his cheeks.
  • grimace.
  • fuss.
  • cry.

As you give your baby more massages, you'll gradually find a routine that works best for both of you. And with all your love and attention focused on him, you and your baby will be truly in touch.