Nigerian Baby Massage includes a broad variety of techniques, many quite different from what we are nowadays used to in the West.
This African Infant Massage is a vigorous full body massage treatment for the baby, covering head to toes, which includes quite a lot of gymnastics-like exercises, and an amazing set of unfamiliar massage techniques.
For instance, the baby is held by its ankles upside down in the air, is shaken, swung, tossed into the air, the head is repeatedly pressed, the nose pinched, its held by the head and lifted in the air, or the legs, hands and arms are gently twisted behind the back, and the abdominal area is pressed with a warm, herbal impregnated cloth, among other techniques.
Additionally, warm herbal pastes and oils are used also, notably blends of various palm oils and Shea Butter.
The more “gymnastics part” of the massage reminds much of the Russian Dynamic Baby Gymnastics, which is believed to have “borrowed” their techniques from African style Baby Massage. In any case, it’s believed that this baby treatment relaxes the baby, makes it stronger and more flexible, and prevents deformities, while easing digestion and intestinal problems.
Typically, it’s an elderly woman that gives massages to the baby, such as a grandmother, an aunt, a traditional midwife, or a neighbor with experience. It’s only if no one else is available that the mother of the baby would give the massage. By the way, a Baby Massage in Nigeria is usually given as part of the bath ritual.