infants and toddlers
 
The Art of Infant Massage
Your Loving Touch

An Ancient Custom…

You are certainly no stranger to infant massage. Instinctively, from the first moment that you held your little one in your arms, you began to stroke, caress and nurture the newest member of your family.

It is an ancient custom that has been handed down from generation to generation since the beginning of time. Many cultures today include infant massage as part of their daily routine, but as it is with so many customs brought to this country hundreds of years ago, the practice of infant massage faded away as the demands of daily life left little time for something as "luxurious" as infant massage. The results of scientific research developed at the University of Miami Medical School’s Touch Research Institute, has validated what generations of mothers knew about massage.

Benefits of Infant Massage

You and baby benefit in many ways through infant massage. The skin is one of the largest and most important organs of the body and stimulation of the skin is vital to a person’s physiological and psychological development. It is your baby’s first means of communication with the outside world.

The benefits of infant massage include:

· increased circulation,

· increased muscle tone,

· increased flexibility,

· relief of tension and pain,

· enhanced feeling of relaxation promoting better sleep, digestion and elimination,

· increased sense of self-esteem,

· enhanced sense of well-being,

· stronger parent-child bonding,

· confidence in caring for the baby, and

· relaxation for parents.

With infant massage, baby can learn how to cope with the many positive and negative stresses of daily life. The baby learns to relax and how to use this skill throughout his life. A secure and confident child will grow into a secure and confident adult – one who will develop healthy, strong relationships and respond to situations with great spiritual harmony.

Getting Started

You may introduce baby to massage at any age. Limit the massage to five to ten minutes for very young babies, gradually increasing the time to thirty minutes. Always massage your baby in a warm, quiet place. Lighting could be subdued or not. Soft music is optional as baby will be intently tuned into the sweetest music of all – the soft, soothing sound of your voice.

Use a cold-pressed unscented, light, natural, fruit or vegetable oil such as sweet almond or canola which can be purchased at your local health food store. These oils are moisturizing, nourishing, safe and non-irritating to baby’s sensitive skin.

The best time of day to massage will differ from baby to baby. Follow baby’s cues. Keep a few things in mind before proceeding with a massage. Cuddling and rocking might be more appropriate if baby is sick and not feeling well. Do not massage a baby with an elevated body temperature, and delay the massage for a half hour if baby has a very full stomach or is very hungry.

Above all, respect your baby’s signals if he decides that a massage isn’t what he has in mind right then. Never force the baby into a massage and don’t be discouraged if baby isn’t enthusiastic at the outset. Work slowly, gently and lovingly. Feel confident that you are giving your baby the most precious of gifts ——love, caring, assurance, and respect. Allow these gifts to flow freely from your heart through your hands to your baby. Your little one will respond with smiles of great joy and love.

Most of all, enjoy this special time with your little one. Enjoy "rediscovering" this beautiful custom and start a tradition in your own family. Rest assured that your loving touch is building the foundation for a lifetime of health, happiness and spiritual harmony.

For Additional Information:

Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala Schneider McClure, Bantam Books, N.Y., N.Y., 1989.

Baby Massage: A Practical Guide to Massage and Movement for Babies and Infants by Peter Walker, St. Martin’s Griffin, N.Y., N.Y., 1995.

Baby Massage: Parent-Child Bonding Through Touch by Amelia D. Auckett, New Market Press, N.Y., N.Y., 1989.

International Association of Infant Massage
5660 Clinton St. Suite 2
Elma, N.Y. 14059
(716) 684-3299

Cindy Long is a licensed massage therapist and sole proprietor of Inner Rhythms Therapeutic Massage in Hamden, where she resides with her husband, three year old daughter, and mother. She is a graduate of the CT Center for Massage Therapy and a member of the International Association of Infant Massage. Her infant massage classes are offered through Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Women’s Education Life Learning (WELL) program. For more information please call (203) 688-WELL.

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