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Both babies and their care givers may benefit from infant massage. As an IMIS trained massage instructor I use and teach a combination of Indian and Swedish massage, together with reflexology, to promote good health and relaxation. Strokes taught include full body massage; a sequence for colic, wind and constipation; touch relaxation; and lymphatic drainage. Massage can be enjoyed throughout childhood with adaptions made for older children.
Massage is most beneficial when offered daily but may be given up to twice a day and for as long as the infant wants. The ‘quiet alert’ time is the best time to massage. This is the period following a sleep when the baby is lying quietly and looking around. It is best not to combine massage with bathing until the baby is at least five months old as it may prove too stimulating for them. When performed together give the massage after bathing. For safety reasons it is best to massage on a towel or blanket on the floor and various positions are available.
When selecting oil for infant massage it is important to use natural, cold-pressed, organic oil. This will ensure that any residue is harmless if ingested by the baby. Natural oils such as sesame oil (medium texture) almond oil (thicker texture) and apricot kernel oil (lighter texture) are well absorbed with excellent moisturising properties. Sesame oil contains Vitamin A, B and E and is a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial with a good texture. Never use cooking oils as they are modified for their desired purpose. Don’t use essential oils during the first year as they are too stimulating for young babies. Always test for sensitivity before commencing massage with a new variety of oil.
IMIS believes that there are many benefits associated with massage - both for the infant and the parent or care giver. These include:
There are certain situations when massage is not permitted. These include:
During times of fever and illness gentle massage may be given if the infant consents, taking care not to elevate the temperature or overstimulate the child.