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Observing articles and posts about infant massage from our instructors, I am concerned about something. Often, the babies being massaged are shown partially or fully clothed. I don’t know if this is because they are being photographed, but I believe it sends the wrong message about infant massage. Babies should be without clothing during their massage. It is a choreographed “dance,” with each stroke leading into the next, and “integration” strokes between which go from torso to buttocks, to legs. If the baby has any clothing on, including diapers, this dance is interrupted, and the subtle message is that the baby’s “nether regions” are not to be included — not to be touched — somehow shameful. When stroking the baby’s leg, the hands must be able to start and finish at the buttocks and the inner thigh connected to the genitals. When stroking the back, the hand must be able to swoop from the shoulder blades all the way down to the ankles. If parents are concerned about the baby peeing or defecating they can lay a cloth over the genitals.

If parents are squeamish about this, it is the instructor’s job to help them understand the importance of full integration of the baby’s body, both for baby and parent. We shouldn’t be giving the message that part of the body is untouchable or shameful. If baby boys get an erection, it is a natural thing; the parent should just continue the massage and not be concerned about it.

I hope you will think about this if you are teaching classes with babies that are clothed in any way. The photographs in my book are of babies without clothing to show the strokes properly. Please encourage parents to remove all clothing and if necessary throw a cloth over the genitals that is not constricting.

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