The beautiful and wonderful power of touch. From a nudge to a snuggle, a high-five to a hug, a hand-hold to a pat-on-the-back, a touch goes a long way. This is also to be said about infants and their response and interpretation to touch. Infant massage is one of those great ways to show an infant just how important they are.
What is Infant Massage
Infant massage is the art of physical touch and intentional energy exchange with an infant. Infant massage can be applied with or without a carrier oil or lotion and is conducted throughout various body parts. This art moves the hands of the massager to the infant with small strokes, circular motions, and caressing. This is another tool of bonding that can occur between the baby and a caretaker. Massage, just like for us big people, offers relaxation, comfort, and resetting. As an infant’s body grows through milestones and growth spurts, the aiding of the touch promotes circulatory and digestive systems which stimulates growth, eases discomforts, and builds bonding.
What are the Benefits
Infant massage has some great benefits that are not only wonderful for the baby, but also for the individual providing the service. One of the biggest benefits for a baby is digestion. Due to the continued maturing of an infant’s digestive system, babies are suseptilble to constipation and even frequent pains caused by gas bubbles. No matter the method of feeding. What infant massage provides, is ease and comfort from the discomforts of digesting by aiding and moving bubbles through the bowels in an easier-to-process way through the caregiver’s pressures and fingertips.
Another benefit is that it changes the emotional dynamic of an upset baby by calming their space and energy. Physical touch to an infant is a means of comfort and support. The loving touches of a caregiver on the baby’s soft skin tell the infant that they are safe and loved. Why do you think babies love being held? It’s a physiological benefit to both the baby and the caregiver.
Additionally, a massage gives support and promotion to one’s lymphatic nodes and moves blood oxygen through the body. Which promotes healthy blood flow, blood oxygen levels, and body temperatures.
Resources for Additional Information
While there are no certifications for infant massage therapists, there are certifications for individuals that teach and educate parents and caregivers on how to conduct massages on their own infants. The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) is the universal training organization for Infant massage, and Infant Massage USA is the United States chapter of the organization. Through these organizations, educator training classes and local classes and educators can be found.
Click on these hands-on demonstrations to view and learn how to approach and implement massages for baby:
The Basics: Infant Massage 101
Providing Comfort: Infant Massage for Constipation Wind & Gas
Soothing Assistance: Infant Massage for Coughs and Colds
One doesn’t necessarily have to be certified to hold, touch, and massage. It can oftentimes come naturally to an individual as they hold and caress the baby. The biggest thing to note is the baby’s pressure, pressure points, and temperament.
Some quick tips to take away:
- Undress baby to their diaper
- Use a conductor (oil of choice, lotion of choice, soap, etc)
- With light to moderate pressure start with one part of the body (arms, legs, belly..) and gently massage the area in circular motions using your thumbs and fingers. Start from the top of the extremity, and work your way down to the toes and fingers. Continuing the circular motion and moderate pressures.
- Continue throughout the body as the baby enjoys.
- Clothe baby