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Baby massage can be a great way to strengthen your baby's growing muscles. Get step-by-step instructions with our easy-to-follow baby-massage video.
Babies strengthen from the neck down. That's why lifting the head is the first to happen and standing on two feet is the last. We can build strength and encourage the natural physical developmental progression just by using a few gentle and fun techniques. Be guided by your baby here. Babies younger than 4 months will need more help and support around the neck. Hold younger ones more forward, allowing the head to hang forward. We just want to avoid the neck lagging behind, therefore straining the neck.
When ready and in position, gently rock backward and forward. This is not only good for strengthening but also for balance. Don't hold for too long, return to sitting or lying when ready. For older babies, you can even encourage them to stand up.
Roll over: Gently roll on to one side, rubbing their back while supporting this position. This really encourages the roll movement, helping your baby understand what to do and how it feels. Then you can roll on to the front too for a bit of tummy time.
This is a really fun move: super baby. It really opens the chest, stretches the arms, and encourages strength in the spine and neck. [Editor's note: This technique should only be used with babies who have good head control. If in doubt, save it until your baby's at least 6 months old.]
Support your baby's chest with one hand. Use the other to take their arms stretched out behind them, then swap support hands and stretch the other arm back. When you feel comfortable with this, try the next stage: Use both arms together to lift your baby's chest off the floor. Hold for as long as she feels comfortable before gently lowering her down. Super baby, super fun.
Push, counter-push: This is a great way of strengthening the legs to build resistance ready for standing or walking. Babies will push with varying pressure and you can also have fun with a jump or a march.
Roll back: Roll your baby back the other side. Make sure you roll back in the direction you didn't use before. Notice which direction your baby prefers. Usually this favorite is to do with the position of your baby in your uterus in the final few weeks of pregnancy. It's very helpful for your baby to develop movement and balance on both sides. Rub your baby's back in a circular motion again while supporting her with your other hand. When ready, roll back lying face-up.