Traditional Senegalese Baby Massage is a rather tough, rigorous full body massage, one that certainly should not be carried out by an inexperienced practitioner. The massage is typically applied daily, in the morning, and is given by an elder female family member, such as an aunt or grandmother, but also by professional folk healers.
It’s a typical (black) African massage modality that includes stretches, shaking, inverted suspensions, tossing in the air, firm rubbing, tapping and stroking, abdominal work, “modeling,” oils (such as Touloucouna oil), butters (Shea butter), and hot herbal applications.
The massage treatment is a ritual to welcome and integrate the baby in the world outside the womb. Much in this type of massage is aimed at increasing overall circulation in the baby’s body and strengthening the baby’s nervous system, muscles, joints, and limbs. The firm routine is also believed to make the child less emotional, less afraid, and more intelligent in life.
The Infant Massage also includes a type of “modeling,” that is, making sure that the baby’s bones get the right “form,” or in any case preventing that the bones don’t become deformed. The “modeling practice” is also specifically applied for the sex parts, internal organs, the head and face. It’s considered an important part of the session.
You can watch a Senegalese Baby Massage session in the YouTube video Le massage du nourrisson (Infant Massage).