Newborns and infants do not come with an instruction manual. Each child is unique and has a language all their own! During the first few months the new parents begin to learn the different sounds, cries and body cues the child displays as a means of communicating their needs.
One of our great graduates, Carol Gutierrez, recently welcomed a new grandchild into the world! She shared that at two weeks old, her grandson began communicating he had colicky symptoms after feeding by wiggling, crying inconsolably and sleeplessness. “As a caring grandparent it was frustrating to watch. Many hours were spent rocking, singing, walking and providing a loving
presence”, Carol reported.
Carol shared she used many of the things she had learned during her massage therapy training at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts. She reported reaching into her tool-kit for all the techniques she had learned about infant massage, energy work, reflexology and aromatherapy. While not all of protocols were 100 % effective in calming the child, Carol confirmed that her sense of connection with her grandbaby increased and her sense of helplessness lessened.
As a registered nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist, Carol understood her grandchild’s nervous system was still developing, and that certain infant massage techniques are not well-received (by the child). For example, he does not care for circular movements along the spine. Following the child’s lead, during the times when he was quiet and calm, she introduced little snippets of the infant massage protocol she had learned in an effort to provide sensory stimulation associated with contentment and comfort. Little by little it seemed to calm and relax the child, as well as the rest of the family.
The classic book, Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, by Vimala McClure, is a good resource for those interested in learning safe and effective baby massage techniques. The author of the book states that infant massage can benefit the child, the parents, and extended caregivers by helping to create a more intimate relationship with the baby. Massage, when done in a relaxed atmosphere with appropriate environmental conditions such as no distractions, a warm comfortable room temperature, and perhaps quiet music, can offer the opportunity for eye to eye contact (depending on age of infant). Baby massage also provides a nurturing skin contact, enhances body awareness, and offers a sense of being safe and cared for and about. Once the parents and caregivers learn the baby’s physical cues, they feel more comfortable with caring for the infant, and have a tool to comfort the baby.
Research shows that infant massage promotes sleep, helps with elimination and boosts the immune system. As with general massage, improved skin condition, improved circulation, and regulation of breathing occur. Pre-term infants given 10 minute massage three times a day gained weight faster than the control group, without having an increase in caloric intake! They also had less intravenous line infections and were discharged three days sooner than the control group.
How and where to learn Infant Massage:
The techniques for infant massage are fun and easy! You do not have to be an expert to provide a wonderful experience for your infant. It is innate to want to touch and soothe a child, especially one trying to communicate its needs to you.Many massage therapists are trained to work with parents and caregivers to teach the basic infant massage techniques that are safe and effective. One directory resource you might consider to find a practitioner near you is www.GreatGraduates.com, featuring the graduates of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.
Other resources available from http://www.babyzone.com include:
Infant Massage, A Gift of Love (with Cheryl Brenman)
Baby Massage: A Video for Loving Parents (directed by Jim Jenner)
Baby Massage: A Practical Guide to Massage and Movement for Babies and Infants, by Peter Walker
Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage, by Frederick Leboyer
Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, by Vimala McClure
The power of intentional positive touch benefits the giver and the receiver. The ‘Love” hormones are stimulated, as well as the parasympathetic or “relaxation” aspect of our nervous systems through touch. The key is communication. Create a deeper connection with your infant using Infant Massage by communicating how much you care through your touch.
Southwest Institute of Healing Arts offers an infant massage knows as BabyTouch several times a year. During the 12 hour class parents are invited to bring their infants to campus for massage session from one of the Licensed massage therapists in training. As a nationally accredited massage school their individual classes are approved for NCBTMB continuing education credits.