Learning how to give a tummy massage to a baby with constipation

There is not a single parent who would not be concerned about problems associated with the child’s digestion. And the most common reason that deprives mothers and their children of peace of mind is constipation. From this article you will learn how to alleviate the condition of your favorite lump, and how to massage the belly of a baby.

Many mothers believe that understanding the basics of massage is very difficult. But we must say that there is nothing difficult in performing it for constipation in an infant. After studying our recommendations and several videos, you will certainly be sure how to properly massage the tummy of a newborn or infant to help him establish bowel movements.

First symptoms of constipation

The frequency of stool in an infant varies depending on age, individual development and congenital characteristics, so there are no strict conventions for this process. The appearance of episodic difficulties with bowel movements usually does not pose a threat, but only indicates some changes in diet or environmental conditions (overheating, stress, moving).

You should talk about constipation if the following symptoms are observed:

  • The frequency of bowel movements in the child has changed in comparison with his individual norm, absence of stool for more than 2 days;
  • The amount of feces has decreased, they have become dense (or even dry), fragmented (in the form of lumps);
  • Along with this, the baby became more restless and tearful (indicating possible intestinal colic);
  • Refuses to eat, sleeps poorly;
  • When you feel the abdomen, you may notice swelling or hardened areas (this can also cause the baby to cry);
  • During the act of defecation, the child strains greatly, which can be seen by the redness of the face, pulling the legs towards the stomach, and groaning.

If you develop fever, nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, diarrhea (alternating with constipation) or blood in your stool, you should immediately consult a doctor. Such signs usually indicate severe damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

Signs of constipation

Before we talk about massage techniques, you need to make sure that your baby is truly constipated. Its symptoms include:

  • Lack of stool for several days (please remember that a baby fed on breast milk can poop once every 5-7 days). And this is not considered a pathology.
  • The baby's belly is swollen, and upon palpation its hardness is felt.
  • The baby often strains, but is unable to perform a bowel movement. His efforts may be accompanied by sobbing or even strong crying.
  • For unknown reasons, the baby’s appetite has worsened significantly.
  • The baby became more capricious than before.

The importance of massage in children

Massage for constipation in children will not have the desired effect if done in isolation. It is an exclusively auxiliary measure, which is aimed at potentiating the effect of diet or the use of other means.

The development of the nervous system of an infant occurs under the influence of a huge number of factors that he usually encounters for the first time. It turns out that the environment is also of great importance.

In the first months of life, among all sensory systems, tactile perception is practically the main way of communication between mother and child. The pathways of, for example, auditory or visual analyzers have not yet formed. Nevertheless, the signals are perceived, although the baby is not yet consciously able to analyze them. Therefore, it is recommended to perform massages with a friendly smile on your face, accompanied by calm music or the voice of your mother.


Attention must be paid not only to the stomach, but to the whole body. This is due to the fact that with tactile irritation of the skin, impulses arrive in different areas of the cerebral cortex, which leads to an indirect increase in the tone of the whole organism. A generalized improvement in innervation makes it possible to stabilize the regulation of all organ systems, and as is known, they are interconnected.

Massage for constipation in infants affects the formation of the correct defecation reflex and motor reactions in children and causes positive emotions.

By performing a tummy massage on a newborn, you also improve lymphatic drainage, stimulating the cleansing of tissues from metabolites and other metabolic products.

Often problems with bowel movements are accompanied by the accumulation of gases in the intestines.

This is also associated with impaired muscle tone of the digestive tract and abdominal muscles.

In this situation, abdominal massage for constipation in children is of particular importance, as it relieves flatulence.


Impaired bowel movements in children can be treated in various ways. However, there are known conditions in which tummy massage can be done not only for therapeutic purposes, but also for preventive purposes.

Tummy massage for constipation in a newborn is indicated in the following situations:

  • Adding complementary foods to breastfeeding with the gradual introduction of new foods;
  • The baby drinks little fluid;
  • Switching to mixed or artificial feeding;
  • Changing the type or brand of mixture;
  • Having lactose intolerance or gluten enteropathy (celiac disease);
  • The baby was prescribed iron supplements (for example, to correct an anemic condition after an illness), for which constipation is a side effect;
  • A breastfeeding mother needs to take various pharmaceutical medications;
  • A sharp change in a woman’s diet during lactation;
  • Low physical activity of the child.

Before giving a baby a tummy massage, it is necessary to correct all possible risk factors that can lead to constipation (examination by pediatricians to exclude diseases, diet, increased physical activity, gymnastics). Otherwise, there may simply be no effect.

Causes of problems with stool

  • If your daughter or son is breastfed, then, first of all, the cause of constipation should be looked for in the mother’s plate. If a woman is prone to difficult bowel movements, a woman should exclude from her diet foods such as baked goods made from wheat flour, cow's milk, rice and nuts, as well as bananas. Dairy products are the most common cause of constipation in nursing mothers. In its raw form, it contains proteins that are difficult for a child’s body to digest. Therefore, during breastfeeding, women are allowed to drink exclusively boiled milk.
  • If the child is on artificial or mixed types of feeding, then, most likely, constipation should be blamed on the adapted milk formula, which is not suitable for him.
  • Also, constipation may appear in infants when introducing early complementary foods. The fact is that at the age of 3-5 months, the child’s body does not yet produce enzymes that facilitate the absorption of adult food.

However, regardless of the cause, you can make your child feel better.


It is not always possible to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract. Abdominal massage for a baby with constipation is contraindicated in the following cases:

  • The acute phase of any infectious and inflammatory diseases in which body temperature rises;
  • Severe form of malnutrition;
  • Acute inflammatory damage to the skin (especially purulent), lymph nodes, bones, muscles and subcutaneous fat - eczema, lymphadenitis, osteomyelitis, phlegmon, abscesses, impetigo, pemphigus;
  • Bone diseases that are accompanied by pain or increased fragility;
  • Severe rachitic lesions with symptoms of hyperesthesia (excessive reaction to normal stimuli);
  • Acute purulent arthritis;
  • Tuberculous lesions of joints, bones, lymph nodes, intestines;
  • Congenital heart defects, starting from the compensation stage (the first sign is the appearance of cyanosis);
  • Hemorrhagic diathesis, hemophilia;
  • Inflammation of the kidneys, liver;
  • Active generalized form of tuberculosis;
  • The presence of umbilical, inguinal, femoral or scrotal hernias with a high probability of strangulation or prolapse.

In some cases, pediatricians allow the area in which there is a risk of developing a hernia to be fixed with a plaster before classes. This can only be done after 6 months of age.

Also, you should not massage a newborn with constipation if he reacts as follows:

  • Cries a lot when the abdomen is felt;
  • The skin is pale or bluish;
  • When touching the anterolateral abdominal wall, muscle tension or uneven swelling occurs;
  • The baby is very weak, lethargic;
  • The skin of the abdomen has lesions or a rash.

Preparing for a massage

Mom definitely needs to learn the technique of tummy massage for constipation in a newborn. The procedure is aimed at improving the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. But before you begin the practical part, you need to prepare for these manipulations. These include:

  • Washing and warming hands.
  • Undressing the baby, but it is not recommended to do this right away. First you need to take the baby in your arms, stroke his face and body, and then just start undressing him, not forgetting to stroke him constantly.
  • You also need to decide in advance on the place where you will do the massage. The surface must be fairly hard. The ideal option for a child is a changing table or coffee table, covered with a thin blanket on top. But if you have a bed with an orthopedic mattress, you can exercise on it.
  • Before you begin the massage, check that your nails are trimmed. If you are a manicure lover, then you should entrust a loving husband with a belly massage for a newborn. Otherwise, you may injure the baby.
  • It is equally important to choose the optimal time for such manipulations. Massaging the tummy of a baby with constipation is possible only if the baby is not capricious and behaves calmly. Of course, you can’t do this after eating. It is allowed to massage only 1-1.5 hours after eating. Experts explain this recommendation by the fact that after digesting food, the baby’s abdominal wall relaxes, so your impact on the child’s gastrointestinal tract will be most effective an hour after eating. And if the baby starts to be capricious after finishing the massage movements, you can always give him the breast to refresh himself and calm down.

Please note that tummy massage for a newborn or baby with constipation should be done at least 2-3 times a day. Only in this case will your actions ease the baby’s well-being and relieve him of discomfort in the tummy.

Features of the event

The presence of constipation in newborns requires immediate action on the part of parents, however, each of their treatment or prevention methods must be carried out in accordance with established rules. The conditions in which the procedure takes place are also of great importance.

The necessary conditions

When choosing a venue for an event, a changing table is best for babies under six months of age. You need to put a soft diaper made of natural fabric on it, under which there should be a thicker (oilcloth) blanket folded 3-4 times.

The table must be installed in such a way that there is access to the child from either side, in a place away from possible drafts or heating devices. Make sure you have good lighting.

The American Pediatrics Association recommends teaching children on the floor, but it must be insulated.

Before the massage, the room in which it will be performed must be ventilated. In the warm season, it can be performed in the fresh air or with an open window (combination with hardening).

Basic Rules

Massage for a baby with constipation should be done according to the following rules:

  1. Such activities and gymnastics are allowed from 1.5-2 months of a child’s life under other normal conditions;
  2. Massage can be performed no earlier than 40-45 minutes after eating;
  3. The child must be calm;
  4. For massage, infants should not use any ointments or rubbing;
  5. Baby powder, talc and oil can be used only when necessary (excessively dry skin, sweaty palms);
  6. Before performing a massage for constipation, children need to be undressed, washed and placed on a table on their backs with their legs facing the parent;
  7. It is important to consider the child's response;
  8. Wash your hands thoroughly, keep your nails short, and also remove all rings and jewelry from your fingers;
  9. Clothing should not restrict movement, so that it is possible to expose the arms to the level of the elbows;
  10. In the cool season, it is recommended to cover the baby’s body with a diaper, leaving only the area that is supposed to be massaged.


Children of different ages have their own developmental characteristics that need to be paid attention to. In the first months of life, deep stimulating movements are not recommended - they should be as gentle as possible. In this case, the emphasis is placed more on establishing close tactile contact.


A similar technique is used to improve the tone of the intestinal muscles, which gradually normalizes its function. The procedure must be performed within 7-10 minutes as follows:

  1. To prepare your child for a massage, you need to perform gentle warming movements. They consist of simply stroking with a warm palm in a clockwise direction. After this, you can move your hand like a diverging spiral (from the center - the navel - outwards);
  2. When the child is accustomed to touch, begin deeper movements in the direction of the colon, massaging with the edge of the palm in a bent state. The pressure increases as it approaches the end point (in the left iliac region), where the rectum originates;
  3. Next, rub with the tips of several fingers, which alternate with gentle vibration and jerking movements along the same trajectory in the shape of the letter “P”;
  4. The massage is completed by placing the baby on his stomach. At the same time, you can gently stimulate the muscles of the neck, back and buttocks, which will have an auxiliary effect to improve peristalsis.

After the massage, you can perform gymnastic exercises in accordance with the age of the child.


A technique that helps relax the muscles of the abdominal wall also works well for spastic constipation, which is accompanied by intestinal colic. It is performed using similar techniques using exclusively gentle movements (deep and superficial stroking).

In this case, vibration, jerking movements and rubbing are not carried out.

They also finish by laying it on the stomach and massaging the back. Each action takes from 5 to 8 minutes, so that the entire procedure lasts at least a quarter of an hour.

Massage technique

If there are problems associated with intestinal function in an infant, the parent’s goal is to improve intestinal motility and facilitate the passage of feces. That is why it will not be possible to limit yourself to two minutes of stroking. Usually children love the warmth of their mother's hands and the process itself, so they can lie quietly for 7-10 minutes while you improve the functioning of their internal organs.

  1. Always start the massage with leisurely and soft stroking of the belly. Thus, the baby will tune in to the “relaxing” procedure. These movements must be done correctly: move in a circle clockwise with the inside of your palm.
  2. Then you can begin more active movements in a spiral from the navel, trying to massage the front wall of the belly more deeply.
  3. After this, use the edge of your palm to move from the lower left abdomen upward. Then move under your ribs to the right, and then slowly down. Thus, the trajectory of your hands will resemble the letter “P”.
  4. It is necessary to complete the baby massage with several relaxing, soft strokes. Lay him flat on his back and walk with tenderness and love with your fingertips from the chest to the toes down. Repeat the procedure several times.

After a relaxing massage for constipation, you need to lay the child on his stomach and stroke the area from the shoulder blades to the pelvis. It also stimulates the abdominal muscles, albeit indirectly. Upon completion of all manipulations, it is recommended to do active exercises with the baby, such as cycling or pressing your knees to your belly.

If your baby is already old enough, then he needs to be given the opportunity to crawl to his heart's content. If he is still quite a baby, then at the end of the massage he can be placed on a warm diaper. All these actions will have a positive effect on his intestinal function.

To help you better understand all the features of performing a home massage for constipation, we suggest you watch a video on the topic.

Performing a massage for a baby with constipation: video

To conclude the recommendations for performing massage on infants, we would like to recommend the following. Touch your baby's bare tummy to yours as often as possible. Maternal warmth stimulates the baby's intestines. Experts also advise inflating your stomach as much as possible, then gradually relaxing it.

Now you know the basic rules and recommendations regarding the question of how to properly perform an effective massage for constipation in a newborn. You have learned several effective techniques that will improve the functioning of children's intestinal motility.

We remind you that, despite the presence of a huge number of medicinal and relatively safe medications, gas tubes and enemas, the most useful and effective way to combat constipation is a simple tummy massage done by mother’s hands.

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