We are now offering group and individual Infant Massage classes for families with one of our Occupational Therapists who was recently certified by the International Association of Infant Massage. Nancy E.A. Weiss, MOT, OTR/L has been a licensed OT since 1986 with over 20 years of experience in private pediatric occupational therapy and on staff at The Children’s Therapy Center, Inc. since 2001.
This method is taught in 5 separate classes, one hour a week. Families learn massage strokes, beginning with the feet and legs, then learning other parts of the body each class – belly and chest, arms, face and back. They also learn other ways to enhance the bonding process, which is an aspect of the parent-baby relationship that will affect the child all of their lives. Learning how to communicate with the baby, how to recognize their signals when they are trying to communicate with their parents is also covered as well as many considerations to enhance the massage experience.
Why massage a baby? What are the benefits? Research shows that babies who get massaged regularly deepen the bonds with the person who massages them and form greater attachments. The respect shown by the parent when learning to communicate with their baby helps the child learn self-worth and trust. Physically, massage can help relieve gas, constipation, colic and other discomfort. It stimulates the child’s language development especially as the parent talks, sings or coos back and forth with the baby. The baby’s body systems are stimulated such as the circulatory, nervous, respiratory, lymphatic and digestion. The baby’s sensory systems are also stimulated (especially the tactile and proprioceptive) causing greater sensory integration. Babies who are regularly massaged have been found to sleep better, are more calm, show less signs of stress, have greater ability to cope with environmental demands and demonstrate better regulation of behavioral states. Research continues to find more and more benefits of regular massage.
These techniques can be used with the child throughout their growing years, making changes based on their tolerance and needs. It is appropriate for all babies, including those with special needs, but it should be taught by a well-trained instructor. Hospitals with Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICU’s) are starting to offer massage instruction by trained professionals, and it is giving parents who may be feeling helpless in other regards something very positive they can do for their baby. Aside from that, these families’ ability to start forming that bonding and attachment process has been interrupted, and massage helps them start the process even while their infant is getting necessary medical care.
Please visit the IAIM website for more information: Infantmassageusa.org