History of Baby Massage | Infant Massage

Published: Jan 30, 2022 | Revised: Jan 27, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Mother giving baby a foot massage

Baby and Infant Massage has been a routine practice for thousands of years, among many ancient cultures, spread across regions from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Europe, up to the Americas.

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Drawings, scriptures, treatises, murals, and paintings from Ancient Greece and Egypt, the Roman Empire, Vedic India, the Pacific cultures, and Ancient China, among others, give evidence of the massage practice for babies.

Typically, knowledge was handed down across generations, and most of the time it has been carried out by the mothers of the newborns and/or by the elderly women in their surroundings, such as their own mother or a grandmother, the traditional midwife, or anyone experienced in giving baby massages.

It was only in the 1970s that Baby Massage became popular and accepted in the West, notably through Dr. Frederic Leboyer, a French physician, who brought the Shantala Baby Massage — a traditional Ayurvedic Baby Massage — from India to Europe.

Later, around 1976, Vimala Schneider McClure introduced Infant Massage in the USA. In 1978, she developed a training program for Infant Massage instructors, which has become a kind of de facto standard for Western-style baby massages.

Vimala also founded the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) in 1986, which has continued to grow, and now has representatives in over 70 countries worldwide, with tens of thousands of trained IAIM-style Infant Massage Instructors.

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