California Deafblind Services

Gloria: Infant Massage

02/14/2011 11:30

By Gloria Rodriguez-Gil, Educational Specialist

At the 15th Annual Lowenfeld-Akeson Early Years Symposium, Mindy Zlotnick of San Francisco Unified School District's Early Start program gave a presentation on infant massage. She provided information on the importance of infant massage and tips on how to do it. Here are some of the key points she covered:

1. Babies learn through interaction and infant massage can provide this in a positive and relaxed way.

2. It is important that babies have positive experiences about themselves, and infant massage is a good way to provide this to them.

3. Infant massage should be done by the baby’s loved ones, who are also their most important teachers. These could be the parent, grandmother, or another caregiver.

4. The massage should be given through deep, firm, confident touch.

5. When giving infant massage, the parent needs to be focused on the baby so he or she can respond appropriately to the baby’s cues.

6. Use cold-pressed edible oil so that there won’t be any concerns if the baby ingests some of the oil.

7. The parent should be in a comfortable position while giving the massage.

8. The parent can choose to remove some or all of the baby’s clothes, including the diapers.

9. Infant massage can provide a great opportunity to talk with the baby. Use calm, soft, affectionate voice intonations.

10. Before starting the actual massage, ask permission of the baby by talking to the baby, showing the child your hands, touching the baby and reading his or her cues.

11. Rub your hands together with oil before starting the massage so that your hands and the oil are warm.

12. Where there is hair, stroke the baby’s body in the same direction in which the hair grows.

13. Babies often become hungry when they get massaged.

14. The best time to massage the baby is when he or she is in a quiet-alert state and is not tired or hungry. Perhaps the best time would be during the first quiet-alert period of the day.

15. Babies like routines, predictability, and ritual so you might want to choose a consistent time of the day to massage the baby.

16. The massage can be given in any order. Start anywhere; stop anywhere.

Ms. Zlotnik discussed the example of a mother who was afraid of massaging her baby’s tummy because the baby had a gastrostomy tube (g-tube) and she was afraid of hurting the baby. Ms. Zlotnik suggested that the mother start by simply placing her hands on the baby’s tummy for a while, so she could start feeling more comfortable touching this area of her baby’s body.

At the end of her presentation Ms. Zlotnik showed us a video clip of a DVD that provided illustrations on how to massage different parts of a baby’s body. The DVD shows a demonstration of massage techniques on a doll, and then follows with parents massaging their own babies. Please note that this video does not include babies with disabilities. You can find information about the DVD at

In CDBS’ upcoming newsletter (Winter 2011), I will have an article that focuses on infant massage and babies with sensory impairments.

If you have any experiences with infant massage please feel free to share it with us.



Topic: Infant Massage

Date: 03/26/2021

By: Havala McKinney

Subject: Infant massage and gastrostomy tube

Are there any resources or research for infant massage for babies with gastrostomy tube?

Do you have recommendations from moving from "resting hands" to additional abdominal strokes with these babies?


Date: 02/20/2011

By: Mary Porcella OTR/L

Subject: infant massage

Hi gloria, Great article. I became certified in infant massage a few years ago to help me with treatments. I think it is essential for this population especially. really important for bonding between the caregiver and infant.


Date: 02/16/2011

By: cristi m saylor

Subject: infant massage experience

hi gloria, long ago and far away i was a certified infant massage instructor. i really enjoyed showing people how to massage their babies. i always thought kids who have had so many medical procedures would benefit from the positive healing nature of the massage touch to counter all the painful medical touches. i use bits and pieces of that knowledge in my work today - especially when i teach people how to touch someone firmly yet gently before working with the child. i think parents who have children with disabilities would greatly benefit from the bonding and confidence that massaging their babies would bring them -and the babies would benefit too! that early bonding is so critical. :)