Head & Face Massage

To complete the front of your baby’s body we come to the face and head. You can massage this area anytime of day or incorporate with other areas of their body. I used to gently stroke my boys faces as they fell asleep and even when they were asleep, especially if they were a little snotty. The sweeping out from the nose to the ears and down towards the neck that you will learn can help clear congestion in the sinus cavities.

You may notice once you get started that when you are massaging the cheek and lip area your baby turns their head side to side, mouth open towards your fingers. This is a response called the ‘rooting reflex’, another early reflex and innate response that helps the baby find the nipple or bottle in order to feed. This involuntary response should mature after around 3 weeks with your baby turning their head naturally towards the teat or nipple to latch on.

The techniques I teach you in this video are the basics. Adapt them to suit your hands and your baby. You can incorporate ear massage and a gentle scalp massage which is great for cradle cap, taking care with your pressure over their fontanel.

You can also incorporate the game of ‘peek-a-boo’ while you are positioned face to face. Start slowly by covering your own face for a few seconds and then appearing with a smile, a laugh and it seems natural to say “boo”! With repetition and positive emotions shown by yourself your baby with learn that you haven’t disappeared and that it’s a fun game. Soon they will start to copy you and hide their own face. This simple game, aside from being a fun interaction with your baby, teaches them the concept of ‘object permanence’ – the understanding that something still exists even if you can’t see it. An important aspect of building self-confidence in your baby as they grow.

This is also the opportunity to observe the development of your baby’s vision and hearing a little more closely. I’ve put together a couple of checklists and information for babies aged 0-6 months for you to better understand your baby’s eye and ear developmental stages. They are both really important for your baby’s physical development not just for seeing and hearing. We rely on them to move and for balance. Check out the ‘Ear Checklist’ for information on what is called the ‘Vestibulo-ocular’ reflex.

One thing that all babies have in common is being bottle or breast fed in their first year, so please, if your baby is bottle fed use the breast feeding positions, both left and right, as this can help ensure healthy balanced development of your baby’s eyes and ears.

One of my sons developed a ‘lazy’ eye (strabismus) and I wish I could turn the clock back and have known what I know now – ensuring balanced development, integrated reflexes and possibly picking up on things earlier. I never knew which eye to look at, or which of his eyes he was using. We had to wait until he was a little older for treatment (surgery) and whilst he did not regain binocular vision his eyes were straight.

Massaging around your baby’s ears is also a great way to prevent ear infections. Gentle massage can help keep the Eustachian tube (from nose to middle ear) clear of fluid. Use for prevention or as part of their treatment should they get an infection.

Never hesitate to seek advice from your doctor, paediatrician or health care worker if you are unsure or think something is not quite right.

Your baby will start teething around 3 months. Massaging around the mouth with sweeping and small circular motions may help relieve teething pain, you need to use a little pressure. Circles on their cheeks can also be soothing.

  • Watch the video (4:24min)
  • Download the ‘Head & Face Routine’
  • Print of the Checklists for eyes and ears to monitor & check your baby’s development