Indonesia is a large country, with more than 17,000 islands (such as Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Batam, Lombok, Sumatra, and so on), and as such the country boasts many different local cultures and customs. Consequently, baby massages can vary in focus, techniques, and massage oils used.
Infant Massage in Indonesia is called Pijat Bayi and is typically a rather firm full body oil massage mainly given with the hands and fingers, while performing strokes, “milking,” kneading, rubbing, and acupressure. Depending on the style of massage or healing, limbs may be twisted and stretched, the baby lifted by the head, or turned upside down while holding it by the ankles.
In Indonesia, massage of babies already starts at day one after birth (provided that the baby is healthy) and can continue up to five years old. It’s done and taught by traditional midwifes or a female elder with experience.
It’s common to use massage oils, such as, for instance, Coconut oil or Eucalyptus oil. The goals of giving baby massages are to get rid of bloating, “wind” and gas in the body, nurture the skin and hair, reduce excessive crying, increase appetite and accelerate weight gain, improve blood circulation, calm the baby, and warm the body. It can also be given as a therapeutic treatment to heal certain ailments or deformities.
A general Indonesian Baby Massage can be given daily, in the morning, afternoon or evening before bed, but not in the middle of a hot day because it’s thought that the baby’s blood is then too hot, and the effect of the massage not good.