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Welcome to part four of my baby massage blog series where I share – How to include tummy time with baby massage.

tummy time

Encouraging your baby to spent time on their tummy while they are awake helps to strengthen the muscles in their back, arms and neck and develop motor skills needed for the next stages of pushing up, rolling, sitting, crawling and pulling up to standing. It also helps to prevent flat head syndrome which can develop when babies spend too long lying on their back.

Many babies struggle to maintain this position and get frustrated and upset. Baby massage can be a great way to overcome this and help you to include some tummy time each day. As a baby massage instructor I have witnessed countless, previously reluctant, babies enjoying time on their tummy when a bit of massage was involved!

Here are some tips to help you get started –

  1. Find a time when your baby is in a good mood – not too tired or hungry. If they are  unhappy try again another time.
  2. Avoid massaging their back directly after a milk feed as the pressure on their tummy when lying face down may cause milk reflux.
  3. Get cosy – make sure the surface you lay them on is warm, comfortable and away from draughts.
  4. Place a small rolled up towel or blanket under their chest to help them until they have built up strength.
  5. Place their arms in front or to the sides so they can learn to use them to raise themselves up.
  6. Very young babies may prefer to lie skin to skin on your tummy for some back massage. This means they get to stay close to you which helps them feel secure.
  7. If your baby tends to face plant and get upset when on their tummy, try lying them across your lap. This helps them to get used to this position without having to raise their head. Sit with your legs outstretched and crossed at the ankles and lay your baby over your thighs with their upper body on your top leg and head and arms over the side.
  8. Warm some oil in your hands. Move them rhythmically palm down, across you baby’s back and then use the pads of your fingers to massage in small circles. Take care to avoid massaging directly over the spine.
  9. Small bursts of tummy time and massage are best as your baby gets used to both. Nappy changes can be ideal time to include a quick back rub and repeating this several times a day will soon build up their tolerance.

To find a suitable oil for baby massage read part three in the series.

In part five I share …… How baby massage helps with your baby’s development and coordination

To read the whole 8 Part Baby Massage How To Series and learn the benefits for sleep, bonding and tummy troubles plus more start HERE.

To learn a full baby massage routine along with how to adapt the strokes as your baby grows visit IAIM to find a class near you.

Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at