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How To Give Your Baby A Massage To Relieve Constipation

Updated on June 13, 2024
massage_for_constipation_-_baby_4 - Mustela USA - 1

Little digestive systems sometimes need some support to keep things running smoothly. If your baby’s tummy is a little stopped up, you can ease this discomfort by giving them a massage for constipation.

With all the breastmilk or formula your little one is consuming, you would assume that pooping comfortably and very often wouldn’t be a problem. But constipation is surprisingly common in children of all ages.

In babies, the challenging part is that they don’t have the vocabulary to communicate how they’re feeling. You may just notice them looking uncomfortable or in pain when they’re trying to poop.

If you suspect your little one is constipated, keep reading for all of our tips to help them with their tummy troubles.

But first, let’s talk about how effective baby massages can be at solving stomach woes.

How Does A Baby Massage For Constipation Help?

Mom doing a massage for constipation on baby

Releases Air That's Stuck In The Tummy

It’s no secret that babies cry and eat…a lot! And when they do these activities, they can take in excess air as they open their mouths. Sometimes, this air doesn't make its way out of the body but instead gets stuck in the bowels.

Over time, these tiny air bubbles can form one large pocket of air that causes discomfort, and a baby’s tummy might end up hard or sore as a result.

With a baby massage, you can use your hands to gently move this built-up air out of the digestive tract so your little one can find relief and feel like themself again.

Helps With The Rate Of Digestion

In addition to air bubbles, there are other things that can affect little tummies. For instance, the vagus nerve — the nerve that helps control the rate of digestion — is not fully developed in infants. This means regular digestion may be a challenge.

By gently rubbing your baby’s tummy area, you can help stimulate the nerve and relieve constipation and air bubbles.

Strengthens Muscles In The Gut Wall

Since babies are all unique, the development of muscles in their gut walls will naturally be different. This is why some little ones experience more constipation and air bubble issues than others.

By massaging your baby’s tummy, you increase blood flow to the gut wall. This type of massage can allow more nutrients and oxygen to flood the area and strengthen the wall as well. All of this stimulation can mean less constipation for your little one (and less stress for you).

Baby massages also have lots of other great benefits, too, including:

  • Helping them sleep better
  • Improving muscle tone
  • Encouraging focus
  • Improving the immune system

Now that we understand how a baby massage for constipation can work and why it’s beneficial, let's focus on how to prepare for it.

How To Prepare For The Massage

Parent preparing baby with a massage for constipation

Pick The Right Time

Choosing the right time for a massage is extremely important. For example, you don't want to give a massage for constipation just before or after feeding, as this might lead to vomiting.

So, when is the right time? About 45 minutes after your little one has eaten is usually the best option. But you can also do it just after a bath or during playtime when your baby is nice and relaxed.

Our Gentle Cleansing Gel is one of our favorite products to use on delicate baby skin at bath time. This special formula cleanses and soothes skin and hair while ensuring the skin’s natural oils stay intact.

Create A Relaxing Environment

Before starting your massage, you'll also want to make your little one cozy.

Here are a few tips to help:

  • Set the room to the right temperature.
  • Play lullabies or other soothing music.
  • Dim the lights in the room or shut your curtains or blinds to block out sunlight.
  • Choose a familiar space.
  • Place stuffed animals or any other toys they love nearby.
  • Turn your TV, phone, or any other distractions off.

Choose The Right Oils

Parent using oil for a massage for constipation

While you can leave your little one’s clothing on during a massage for constipation, if you decide to take their clothes off, consider using baby oil while giving them a massage.

But not just any oil. Some “baby oils” contain harmful chemicals and aren’t safe to use on little ones. Be sure to check the label for any icky ingredients, like phenoxyethanol, and opt for natural products, like our Baby Oil.

Composed of 99% natural ingredients, it’s safe to use on babies and soothes their delicate skin. It’s also packed with avocado oil, pomegranate seed oil, and sunflower oil to leave your little one’s skin feeling well-nourished and hydrated after every application.

Another great natural option beyond a baby-safe oil is our Melting Massage Balm. Made with 100% natural ingredients that are good for your baby and the environment, this specially formulated balm moisturizes the skin while providing a stimulating experience.

You can also use our EWG Verified Soothing Moisturizing Body Lotion for very sensitive skin. It delivers immediate hydration and is perfect for babies prone to rashes or who have very reactive skin.

With all of this in mind, let’s move on to discuss the best massaging techniques to help your baby with constipation.

5 Ways To Give Your Baby A Massage For Constipation

1) Toes To Nose

massage for constipation to help baby

To use this technique, start by placing your little one’s feet together.

Then, gently rock their feet toward their nose (or as far as possible) and then return their feet back to the starting position. Repeat this motion three to five times.

This is an excellent method to shift stubborn bubbles in the tummy and aid with constipation.

2) Tummy Spirals

Start by rubbing some baby oil in your hands to warm it up. Then, gently place your forefinger near your little one’s belly button and move it clockwise in little circles, out to the side or edge of the belly.

After doing this motion a few times with one finger, progress to two fingers, then three fingers, and so on until you have your whole palm making this same motion.

Pro Tip: Remember to always move your fingers in a clockwise direction for this technique. This is important because the clockwise motion follows your little one’s line of digestion.

3) Thumb Circles

Mom getting ready to change her baby

Rub some massage oil on your hands and hold your little one’s feet up (with their top half still laying down). In this position, massage the soles of their feet and the palms of their hands by moving your thumbs in a circular motion.

This is a calming technique and can soothe your baby’s digestive system. If you do this while feeding, it can also help your little one swallow less air and, in turn, keep air pockets from building up inside their digestive tracts.

4) Twists

This massaging technique can be done while your little one is fully dressed.

Start by placing your baby down on their back. Then, grab their legs and use them to move their hips gently from side to side while keeping their top half on the floor. Do this motion five to ten times.

This movement helps squeeze the digestive system in different directions and releases any built-up air bubbles or discomfort from constipation.

5) 3-Part Stroke

The 3-part stroke is a way to sweetly trace “I L U” on your little one’s body while relieving constipation.

Simply rub some massage oil in your hands, and then use your fingers to write the letter “I” on your little one’s left side (just under their arm) three to five times. Next, trace the letter “L” in this place three to five times as well.

Repeat the same letters on their right side.

For the shape of the “U,” start by tracing an “I” on their right side, cross your little one’s tummy, and end with an “I” on the left side.

You can also use this massage technique to trace the full letters (I, L, and U) on the tummy alone. Using this fluid movement, you can help move trapped air out of the bowels and relieve constipation pain.

Help Your Baby Feel Better

happy baby getting changed

Constipation can be uncomfortable, especially for little ones who don’t yet have the vocabulary to express themselves or the tools to relieve it on their own. But by giving your baby a massage for constipation, you can help them feel better in no time!

Now that you know the tips and techniques in this article, you can confidently come to your baby’s aid the next time you see them struggling to poop or showing signs of discomfort.

While giving your baby a massage, remember to use safe, healthy, and hydrating oils, such as our Baby Oil, to nourish their delicate skin and stimulate blood flow in all the right places.

While constipation in babies can be common, a little rocking, twisting, and gentle massaging can make this tummy trouble go away in no time!

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