What really is Infant Massage? It’s massage therapy specifically for infants. Massage Therapists can do this and get a certification in it. Neonatal nurses have been doing this for years to help premature babies increase their chance of life. But in recent times many parents have started learning the techniques of Infant Massage to not only help their children, but to reap the benefits for parents. Infant Massage provides many benefits for the infant and for the parents themselves.
Infant Massage was introduced into the United States in 1978 by Vimala Schneider McClure. The original founder was a French physician named, Frederic Leboyer, who popularized it through a photojournalistic book during the natural childbirth movement. Vimala Schneider McClure was a yoga therapist in an Indian orphanage. She developed a massage program on request based on evidence that stated that premature babies had weight gain and improved neurological function after being massaged. Upon request of the childbirth educators she adapted her knowledge of Yoga, Swedish massage, and reflexology along with the Indian art of caring for infants into a routine which served as the basis for Infant Massage. In 1986 she founded the International Association of Infant Massage (Infant massage | Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine | Find Articles at BNET, 2009).
Infant Massage dates back to ancient times and was practiced by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Part of the infant’s routine care was Infant Massage. For the Maoris and the Hawaiians it was part of the infant’s bath. In these cultures touch is considered helpful both spiritually and mentally. Infant massage started before language was invented. It was a mother’s nurturing touch that sprung about this modality. It has only been in recent decades that it has received the scientific attention (Infant massage | Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine | Find Articles at BNET, 2009).
Infant Massage is a way to nurture an infant physically and emotionally. Infants tend to sleep longer and sleep better after a massage. This is obviously a favorite to every parent. It strengthens the muscles and joints. Massage aids in circulation and digestion. It can help prevent colic and also helps soothe pain during their teething stage (Baby Massage : Benefits of Infant massages. Baby Massage for beginners). Another physical benefit is that it aids the nervous system in its development (Mathias, 2003). Some of the emotional benefits are: sense of love, sense of accomplishment, sense of respect, sense of trust, and sense of self-esteem (Gosselin).
The benefits of this modality isn’t restricted just to the infant’s themselves, but to the parents as well. It increases their confidence in being a parent. It helps them recognize nonverbal cues that their baby gives them. It also increases their self-esteem. It promotes bonding time with their infant and also helps to reduce blood pressure. It also relieves stress, especially when the baby is sleeping through the night and they can finally get some sleep (Gosselin).
To be able to do Infant Massage you must be licensed by the state of Florida. Infant Massage is a continuing education credit, so at the end of the seminar you will be certified. The seminar is normally 4 days and is taught by members of the International Association of Infant Massage. The cost of this certification is $625 (Become and Infant Massage Educator, 2006).
Parents normally start massaging their infants right away. As a massage therapist you probably won’t massage a baby younger than three months and this is only due to people don’t normally like to take their infant’s out too much when they are a few months old. Any age between infant to toddler can enjoy these massages. Some sample techniques are: Walking, stroking up and down the baby’s foot; I Love You, three strokes that are performed on the infant’s stomach forming the letters I, L, and U; and the Open Book, the practitioner starts at the center of the baby’s chest and moves outward toward the rib cage as if they are flattening the pages of a book (Baby Massage).
In retrospect, Infant Massage has been around since humans have started procreating. It’s traveled through time to the Asians and Pacific Islanders to India, and finally to Western civilization where it is in continued use today. This modality has proven to help both the young and old.
Baby Massage. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2009, from Baby Massage: http://komar.cs.stthomas.edu/qm425/99f/Patnode3.htm
Baby Massage : Benefits of Infant massages. Baby Massage for beginners. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2009, from www.goodpregnancyguide.com: http://www.goodpregnancyguide.com/index.php/baby-massage/
Become and Infant Massage Educator. (2006). Retrieved January 13, 2009, from Infant Massage USA: http://www.infantmassageusa.org/teach/certified.shtml
Gosselin, B. A. (n.d.). Infant Massage. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from Coos County Family Health Services: http://www.coosfamilyhealth.org/massage.html
Infant massage | Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine | Find Articles at BNET. (2009). Retrieved January 13, 2009, from Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine | Find Articles at BNET: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2603/is_0004/ai_2603000452
Mathias, M. (2003). Infant Massage-Everyone Benefits. Retrieved January 13, 2009, from Massage Today: http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2003/11/05.html