The ancient art of massage has been practiced by many cultures around the world for centuries, and not just on adults. In Hawaii, lomilomi (healing massage) has been used on both mother and child after birth, especially when babies had stomach ailments. In recent years we’ve seen a resurgence in the use of this healing art for infants as massage gains greater acceptance.
Massage is beneficial for all babies. Massaging your baby regularly provides soothing relief from colic, teething, gas and reflux. It also stimulates neurological development, improves sleep patterns, regulates behavioral states and reduces baby’s stress levels. Massage is a wonderful way to bond with your baby while engaging all five senses. Learning infant massage provides parents with another technique to soothe their baby, which in turn helps them gain confidence in their parenting skills.
When giving your baby a massage the best behavioral state is quiet-alert, which means the baby is awake and calm, often after baby has woken up from a nap or after bath time. Wait 35/40 minutes after a feeding to begin massage. When planning a baby massage, do it at the same time of day so that baby feels secure and knows what is coming next. Consider integrating massage into nighttime rituals. Choose a room that is warm, quiet and familiar so that baby doesn't become over stimulated. Use a high quality cold-pressed natural oil like coconut, grape seed or kukui nut. Unscented oil should be used for the first six months so that baby can smell your scent.
Massage can be adapted for babies and children of all ages and length of massage may vary. For toddlers, you may incorporate songs or games to keep their interest. For baby, it is normal to need to nurse, fuss, cry, or take a break during the massage. Make the experience a positive one for baby by responding appropriately to their needs.
For more information on infant massage you can go to the IAIM website: http://www.infantmassageusa.org