There are few different that baby may present. If you can spot them you will be able to have a more fulfilling massage session.
Deep Sleep: No REM. Deep and regular breathing, eyes closed and no big movements.
Light Sleep: REM in progress, eyes closed and you may see some movements during this period.
Drowsy: Eyes will be dull and you might notice heavy eyelids. Mild startles from time to time. (Optimal time to place them in the basket or cot)
Quiet Alert: Wide eyes looking around attentively, minor movements may focus on one object for a period of time.
Active Alert: A lot of activity, thrusting movements, grabbing movements and ‘wriggly bum’ – happy, excited state.
Crying: An obvious one perhaps but crying is a behavioural state and may mean a number of things. Boredom, hunger, tired, dirty nappy and more.
Of all these Quiet Alert is the optimal stage to begin a massage session. During this period your baby will be focused on you and what you are communicating. Make sure it is positive and relaxing.
Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) by Brazelton & Nugent (1995) – More here.