Bonding With Your Baby Through Infant Massage

Want to try an easy way to connect with your clients and help them connect with their new baby? Bonding is a term thrown around a lot and we all know it sounds like a good thing, of course we want to bond, right? But apart from just being present and engaged, what does bonding really mean and how do you make it happen? An easy, no-brainer activity to teach your clients is basic infant massage. The benefits of massage to both giver and receiver are well documented, which include: stress reduction, brain development, oxytocin release, and body awareness. A really cool thing to help us understand the value of massage is to remember that after an egg is fertilized it splits into three layers. The ectoderm layer becomes the skin, nervous system, and brain. In other words, your skin is outside your brain, and your brain is inside your skin. No wonder we feel such a deep skin/brain connection and crave touch!

You can teach your clients some simple techniques for creating a massage ritual with their newborn. Give them some ideas on how to set up the environment; a warm room, a towel to lay the undressed baby on, and they can choose to use organic cornstarch or an oil that is safe for the baby to put in their mouth (coconut oil is always a favorite choice.) The best time to do a massage is after feeding and resting the baby, in an awake state, perhaps before bath time. It’s important to stop and respect their energy if they lose interest, don’t force them to finish the massage. You may want a doll to help with the demonstration, but if you are not a licensed massage therapist yourself, you should not do any actual teaching or demonstration of the baby yourself. Alternatively, you can have some saved video quality instructions online to show your clients instead of you showing up on a mannequin. Watching videos on yourself multiple times and practicing at home before teaching your clients will increase your confidence and knowledge.

Show your clients different types of pressure that can be used such as gentle rotation, a “milking” motion, a slight pull from the joint (such as holding the knee and giving a slight tug on the ankle), or a compression/squeeze. The pressure should be firm, but not deep, and deliberate, not a light tickle. They can work from toe to head, getting between all the bones along the way, and don’t forget the ears! Touch flow can go to the heart but it doesn’t have to. One thing to remember no what should be done is to rub counter-clockwise on the baby’s tummy (if you are facing him who will move to the left, from the baby’s perspective it will be to the right.)

Massage can be especially beneficial for specific ailments. If the baby is congested a gentle tap or cupping on the chest or back above the lungs can help loosen the mucus. A gentle flowing touch around the tear ducts and sinuses can help with blocked ducts and stuffy noses. Tummy massage can help with gas and constipation. And any massage and regular ritual can help reduce crying in a colicky baby. One of the coolest things about massage is that there are almost no contraindications, even for babies in the NICU, except for obvious concerns like open wounds or injuries.

Do your clients a great service and set yourself apart as a little extra by teaching them these basic skills, showing them the value of touch and why it’s important, and building their confidence in parenting and bonding with baby by helping them create a massage ritual with their baby. They will remember you for encouraging this intimate experience!


Tiret, H. “The benefits of infant massage.” Michigan State University Extension. 2016.

About the Author

Jade has spent over a decade in several teaching capacities including as a childbirth educator and doula educator. She is beyond passionate about childbirth and can’t think of anything more rewarding than teaching women to become doulas. She is deeply invested in doula work as a birth, postpartum, and bereavement doula and has served in several volunteer positions on the board of the Utah Doula Association. She is always expanding her knowledge by attending workshops and conferences, reading the latest birth information, and studying with her birthmates.

Outside of doula work, she is a loving and supportive wife and mother of five. She loves attending comedy shows, working in her flower garden, watching movie nights at home, snuggling by the fire with hot cocoa, and always cooking something in the kitchen or wherever. More than anything, Jade is passionate about people and serving them in any way she can, because there is no greater joy than improving someone’s life. You can find more about him and his work here at doulaed.

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