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Baby Massage for Sleep: Infant Massage Techniques for Relaxation

If something is proven to encourage bonding, better sleep, and less fussiness with your baby, would you give it a try? If you’re thinking, “Heck ya I would!” then read on. We’ve got the scoop on what baby massage for sleep is all about, why it’s beneficial, and how to massage a baby to sleep here in this guide.


We’re all about the parenting hacks and infant sleep aids here at Nested Bean. There are so many well-researched, effective ways to encourage infant wellness that parents just don’t hear about, and infant massage techniques are certainly among them! 

Done correctly, there are many benefits to integrating a massage into your baby’s bedtime routine. So, we’re excited to share the what, why, and how behind baby massage to help you build a well-rounded nightly ritual for baby.

What is Baby Massage for Sleep?

Let’s start from the beginning. Baby massage isn’t something you often see or hear talked about, so what exactly is it? It’s the practice of using light pressure touches to soothe and bond with your baby. 

It’s an exploration of what gentle touch is helpful and soothing to your infant. Not every baby massage will look the same because each baby is different and will respond positively or negatively to certain things.

Your baby might even respond differently each time you give them a massage. So, let’s get into why infant massage for sleep can be beneficial and how to do it properly — by paying attention to your little one’s signals and figuring out what works best for them! 

Baby being massaged.

What are the Benefits of Infant Massage Techniques for Sleep?

Parent and Baby Bonding

Along with having several potential health benefits, baby massages can also promote your little one’s emotional health by helping to strengthen the bond between baby and parents. Skin-to-skin contact is an integral part of bonding with baby, and touch is essential to your little one’s emotional development.

Bedtime massages are an excellent way to make skin-to-skin bonding a part of your everyday routine. This is particularly a great way to help dad bond with baby

Sound Sleep

Your touch can release the “feel-good” hormones, dopamine and oxytocin, in your little one. A parent's touch has been scientifically proven to soothe and help babies sleep, and baby massage has been shown to aid the infant hormones that manage stress

So, while a massage can help calm fussiness any time of day, it’s especially valuable as a part of maintaining a consistent baby sleep schedule or newborn nap schedule. The soothing effects of your touch can lull them and help baby sleep. If you’re wondering how to get an overtired baby to sleep, this is an excellent option.

This sensation and the benefits of touch are essential elements to the design of our gently weighted sleepwear. Lightly weighted pads extend the gentle pressure of your touch during sleep so babies can continue to experience the soothing feelings a massage provides even as they sleep. 

From weighted swaddles to weighted sleep sacks, we’ve got it all for you at Nested Bean! More on why we’re the #1 choice for the best baby sleepwear later.

Ease Tummy Troubles

Some specific massage techniques can help ease gastrointestinal discomfort by aiding digestion. It’s a great daily tool if your baby tends to struggle with constipation, gas, and other stomach discomforts


According to Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU, infant social, emotional, and cognitive development is formed, in part, by touch. So, along with all the other benefits of baby massage, as it turns out it could also support essential parts of your child’s development. 

It improves responsiveness in infants and can trigger growth hormones to support both cognitive and physical progress. There's even research that suggests baby massage can even help support immune system function in infants when practiced regularly. 

Our founder writes more about the role touch plays in raising happy children. You can also learn about the various baby milestones in our blog. But at this point, let’s get into some effective infant massage techniques as we guide you through how to massage a baby to sleep.

How to Massage a Baby to Sleep: Infant Massage Techniques to Try

Mom massaging baby.

Ready to learn how to massage a baby to sleep? Massaging baby is good for them, it’s good for you, and it’s easy to make part of your nightly regimen. 

From where to massage to timing, we’ll cover everything you need to know to feel confident putting these infant massage techniques to the test below.

Wait After Meal Time

The first key to proper infant massage is timing. You want to ensure that your baby has had time to digest their most recent meal before beginning the massage. So, a good rule of thumb is about an hour or more after mealtime. 

Timing is Everything

Sometimes your baby will be more interested in a massage than others. If they’re calm and relaxed when you touch them, it’s probably a good time! If they tense up and pull or look away from you, it might be best to try again later.

Set the Scene

Similar to the ideal spot for bedtime, you want to set up for the massage in a calm, quiet place. Too much stimulation in the surroundings and your baby might be too distracted to reap all the benefits.

Lay your little one on their back on top of the changing table or a blanket. You might even want to talk (or sing) softly while you get ready and during the massage to soothe the baby even further. Also, try to maintain eye contact to reassure your little one that everything's okay and it's time to relax.

Where is the Massage Point for Babies to Sleep?

You may be wondering…where do you touch a baby to fall asleep? Where is the massage point for babies to sleep? There are many different points you should be massaging on your child from head to toe.

You want to spend a bit of time softly massaging different areas of the body, whatever amount of time feels natural for you and your little one. Thirty seconds to a minute per area tends to be a good starting point. 

Start at the torso with your baby's chest and tummy, rubbing in a circular motion. Then see which other areas of your baby's body seem to soothe them — this can include the back of your baby's head, shoulders, hands, and feet. 

Be careful to tread lightly on baby's skin, because you want to be sure to avoid tickling them. If your baby is comfortable with it, try to gently flex and extend their limbs as well. 

You may want to massage with lotion or oil, but it's not required. Though it can be messy, it may richen the experience because it reduces the friction between the skin. The most important thing is to use oil that you know if 100% safe for babies. 

Coconut oil is a top choice. Not a lot of research has been done on using lavender oil for this purpose, but diffusing it in your baby's room at bedtime would be great for its calming effects.  - Dreamland Baby

Remember, it’s vital to listen to your baby and watch their physical cues. Keep an eye out for things that seem to make them tense up and things that help them relax. 

There are certainly best practices when it comes to baby massage for sleep, but your little one will let you know what works for them along the way. Whether it’s a baby foot massage for sleep or other massage points for baby to sleep, we hope you find something that works for your child!

Baby Massage Oil for Sleep

You don't have to use oil if it's too messy for your bedtime routine, but it can help prevent tension between your hands and your baby's body. 

The use of massage oil or lotion can also help nourish your baby's skin. Just be sure to do your due diligence and ensure you’re only using safe products on your child’s delicate skin.

More Tips on Baby Massage for Sleep

You should feel as if you’re ready to put these infant massage techniques to the test. If not, though, consider learning how to massage a baby to sleep from the experts! 

Some medical and educational facilities have classes where you can learn more about the baby massage technique and its benefits. To find these programs in your area, try searching phrases such as, “Infant Massage Class,” and your city or zip code, or you can always contact your pediatrician for recommendations.

More Tips on Creating a Calming Routine for Baby Sleep

There you have it - how to massage a baby to sleep. But beyond baby massage for sleep, what else can you do to help get baby to sleep through the night?

If you have a fussy sleeper or are just trying to find the bedtime routine that works best for your family, try Zen Sleepwear. It’s gently weighted in key areas to mimic the soothing sensation and health benefits of your touch to continue comforting your baby even after their evening massage. 

We call this sensation the The Cuddle Effect™ and it helps babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer in as little as 1 to 3 nights. Join over 1 million parents who have experienced the benefits of our lightly weighted sleepwear. Here are some of our top products:

From the best baby PJs to the best transitional swaddle, the best sleep sack for winter, the best bamboo sleep sack, the best swaddle for preemie, the best swaddle for summer, the best transitional sleep sack, and more - we’ve got all your sleepwear needs covered.

Learn more about the importance of how to dress baby for sleep in our blog. We have tips on choosing among the different types of swaddles, how to swaddle a baby, how to transition out of swaddle, sleep sack vs swaddle, when to stop using sleep sack, what to wear under sleep sack, and more.

Or, find additional advice for a newborn not sleeping, such as our guides on when to start sleep training, how to put a baby to sleep fast, how to get baby to nap longer, sleep regression signs, separation anxiety in babies, newborn sleep cycle, safe co sleeping with baby, and more.

At this point, though, it’s time you took a look at what makes our weighted sleepwear so special as we wrap up this guide to infant massage techniques.

Final Thoughts on Using Baby Massage for Sleep

As you can see, using baby massage for sleep can help you bond with your child, encourage healthy development, and also ease them into a deep, restful state - setting the stage for a good night’s sleep for the whole family.

We hope you feel confident in how to massage a baby to sleep after reading this guide. Remember - you need to set the scene, time it right, and be sure to massage the right points on your child. Armed with these infant massage techniques you can get started trying them out today!

But ultimately, baby massage for sleep is just one piece of the puzzle as it pertains to encouraging healthy, consistent sleep habits. Be sure to round out your child’s sleep routine with the right sleepwear, available exclusively at Nested Bean. 

Discover what a difference our sleepwear can make in your family’s life, as it’s help baby sleep better!

Athena S.

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