Baby Massage - The Origins

In many cultures, the practice of massaging babies is an art passed down from generation to generation. Historians have found evidence of baby massage dating back over 3000 years and in regions as diverse as India, Africa, Asia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. Even today in these countries infant massage is still considered a routine part of childcare, from the moment of birth until the baby is weaned and walking.

However, this ancient art has only recently been identified by western practitioners as both a beneficial and important part of the daily care routine. The idea of baby massage was first introduced in the U.S.A. during the mid to late 1970’s at a time when the idea of touch therapy and the massaging of children and babies was unheard of. Two decades later, in 1993, the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine studied mothers in Calcutta performing traditional Indian massage on their newborn babies. They noted that the daily massage was quite vigorous and that afterwards, once swaddled, the babies slept soundly. Further research found that in other countries, baby massage was performed daily after the child’s evening bath and the results were the same - content, sleeping infants.

Since the mid to late 1990’s baby massage has become very popular in the UK, with more emphasis placed on physical bonding and attachment between the parent and the baby. More and more professionals are now realising the importance of baby massage and are encouraging parents to make baby massage a daily part of their routine.

Through the work of baby massage pioneers such as Vimala McClure and Peter Walker, infant massage is now emerging as ‘the’ must do activity and is helping thousands of parents bond with their babies and provide the best possible start in life both physically and emotionally.