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It is important to note that there are significant differences between massage for adults and massage for infants.

It is vital to understand the correct strokes, ideal timing and length of massage to avoid over-stimulation. Infant massage training is essential; like any other form of therapy, it is important to know the specific techniques to enhance the experience.

The following recommendations have been compiled by the Infant Massage Information Service and cannot be used for any other source without expressed permission.

Correct technique...

  • Always begin by massaging the legs. This is the least intrusive way to begin a massage as the legs are touched repeatedly each day during nappy/diaper changes. Placing your hands directly on your baby's chest or abdomen to begin massage can be intrusive, and is unacceptable to many infants.
  • Use long firm strokes. Light, feathery massage can irritate your baby.
  • If massaging your baby's chest, watch for any arm movements going in and out from the chest, or up and down. These movements indicate that you should stop massaging the chest and move onto another area of the body. Alternatively, if your baby covers your hands with theirs, or is otherwise trying to stop you from massaging the chest, it is also a good idea to move onto another area of the body for massage.
  • When massaging your baby's tummy (while they are lying down infront of you), be sure to massage from your left to right (i.e. a clockwise direction), and only massage on the lower half of their tummy.

All in the timing...

  • Before massage, make sure that it is a good time for both you and your baby. You need to select a time when your baby is content to lie down and happily receive massage.
  • Try not to massage your baby in conjunction with bath time if they are under 5-months of age. This can be over-stimulating to the nervous system. The current recommendation for infants under 5-months is that massage and bath time need to be separated by a nap or night-time sleep.
  • Try not to watch the clock during massage. Just go by what your baby is indicating. If he wants more massage, and you're happy to continue, then keep going. If you can see that he has had enough, then stop, regardless of how much massage you managed to get through.
  • Never massage your baby while she is crying (the only exception for this should be massage routines for wind, colic, and constipation) where specific stroke sequences are used to assist with pain relief.

The right ingredients...

The decision of what oil or medium to use with your baby for massage time is an important one. We recommend a pure cold pressed, organic, vegetable, nut, seed, or fruit oil. These are easily absorbed by the skin and provide additional benefits to your child during and after the massage.

As the skin absorbs these oils so easily there will be no oily residue remaining. This means you will not have to wash the oil off afterwards. Avoid mineral oils as well as olive oil, although olive oil is a natural product, its texture is too thick to be absorbed by the skin, so it will not help to moisturise your baby's skin.


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