3 Easy Massage Tips for Better Baby Sleep

baby massage bedtime routine bedtime tips better baby sleep newborn bedtime Dec 20, 2022
3 Easy Massage Tips for Better Baby Sleep

Did you know massage is a natural & effective way to promote better sleep AND relieve issues that can disrupt sleep? As adults, getting a massage is a luxury and leaves us feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready for a good night’s sleep. 

Babies are no different! Just as massage has such a positive effect on us, it can have the same on your little one! And if you’re a parent reading this blog, you’re likely looking for anything to help your baby (and you!) get some extra rest. 

Keep reading for how including a simple massage routine in your baby’s nightly bedtime routine can help improve your baby’s sleep. Or, for some extra support and guidance on any other baby sleep needs, check out my baby sleep guides!

How Massage Helps Promote Better Baby Sleep

If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you’ll know that I am a huge proponent of implementing a consistent bedtime routine.

Bedtime routines have been proven to be a key component to healthy sleep [1], and when implemented correctly, can completely transform your baby’s sleep within as little as two weeks [2]! Not only do they let your baby know that sleep is coming, but they can also help your little one sleep more soundly and for longer periods of time. 

As part of your baby’s nightly bedtime routine, you may want to consider implementing a massage. Massage has been proven to result in fewer night wakings [3], as well as has a positive outcome for not only your baby but for you too! This physical contact between you and your little one decreases cortisol and increases serotonin and dopamine [4], ensuring a happier mood for your baby and less stress for you [5]! 

Some other benefits of infant massage:

  • Relieves stress
  • Reduces crying
  • Promotes maternal bonding with baby
  • Improves digestion

I could honestly go on forever about the benefits of infant massage, but the main takeaway here is that this activity provides an opportunity for positive interaction, increasing bonding and a positive attachment [6] between you and your baby (that also happens to promote better sleep!).

How to Include Massage in Your Baby’s Bedtime Routine

Your baby’s bedtime routine doesn’t have to be complicated and can be as little as 5-6 easy steps that take no longer than 20-30 minutes. 

Here is what I recommend:

  • Warm bath
  • Massage
  • Pajamas
  • Feeding
  • Read books and/or sing songs
  • Into crib or bassinet (awake)

Check out this blog for a more detailed look at my recommended bedtime routine and the science behind each step!

Many parents complete some form of this nightly routine but omit the massage. I’ve found that this is either because they are unaware of the benefits of including a massage, or they simply just don’t know where to start. The truth though, is that you can perform a full body massage on your little one as early as day 1! 

Here are 3 easy techniques to try implementing during tonight’s bedtime routine:

  1. Foot reflexology

This is a gentle, relaxing massage on your baby’s foot using your thumbs and fingertips. Reflexology is based on the theory that there are a lot of nerve endings in the foot that correspond with the organs and zone of the body. This technique can settle a fractious baby and relax them to help induce sleep. 

Using your thumb, go down from the third toe and gently hold down for 6 counts with moderate pressure. Then release pressure and rotate your thumb to soothe it out.

2. Tummy massage

Trapped wind can cause real discomfort for babies and emotional distress for us as parents! This positive touch can really help identify where the trapped wind is and help with constipation. This massage is great for relieving discomfort if your baby is gassy! Just be sure that this technique is always done in a gentle clockwise direction. 

Using the pads of your index and middle fingers, slowly make small circles like the petals of a flower around your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction. 

3. Forehead stroke

Blocked sinuses can cause great discomfort for older babies! This last type of massage can help clear, loosen and drain mucus for your baby’s sinuses once they have developed. And aside from that, it’s a calming and relaxing stroke, as well! 

Place your hands on the sides of your baby’s head with fingers separated and not covering ears. Place the flat of your thumbs in the middle of their forehead and gently stroke from the center to the temples. Be sure not to apply any pressure to the temples.

If you’re interested in seeing these stroked in action, make sure to watch my joint reel with Tiny Petals Baby Massage! And remember, not EVERY baby will love being massaged. Sometimes it takes a number of times for your little one to get used to it and start to enjoy it. If you feel like it's not working with your baby, that's ok! It's also totally fine to skip this step if that's better for you. 

If you find yourself still struggling with your little one’s sleep, please know that you are not alone and that I am here to help. Check out my FREE Sleep Tips or for comprehensive help, download one of my comprehensive sleep guides for step-by-step support. 


[1] [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6587179/  

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29425578/ 

[4] [5] [6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6587181/

Need help transforming your child's sleep? Check out my sleep offerings for children 0-3 years old!


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