Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Infant Massage

October 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles & News, Massage

Infant Massage

Infant Massage is a wonderful experience for a mum or dad and baby. It is based on the sort of massage and nurturing touch practised by many cultures throughout the world and is becoming increasingly popular.

Infant massage was brought to the west in the 1970’s by an American called Vimala McClure. She had been working in an orphanage in a very poor part of India and had been taught how to massage babies by the older girls. During the last week of her stay she fell ill with malaria.  She was delirious with fever and the local women came to look after her. They took it in turns to massage her body and sing to her until the fever broke. She says she never forgot the feeling of the hands and hearts touching her. On her way home Vimala passed a very poor family where the mother was massaging her baby and was struck by the thought that despite everything, this mother could give her baby ‘this beautiful gift of love and security that would help to make him into a compassionate human being’.Vimala trained her first massage instructors towards the end of the 1970’s and the Association of Infant Massage Instructors was formed in 1981.

The massage strokes, based on movements from the Swedish and Indian massage tradition, are taught over a period of about five weeks. But the whole experience is so much more. During the classes babies and carers have a very special time together when they can learn to communicate with each other and the bond between parent and baby is deepened. The baby has the parent’s undivided attention accompanied by the feeling of tender touch through massage and this is reciprocated by the wonderful reaction, the special smiles and looks that only a baby can give. It is alsothe beginnings of respect for each other. Parents are encouraged to ask their baby for permission to massage. You might think this is a strangething especially at such an early age but the baby very quickly comes to understand what is happening and then the reaction is amazing, Gradually the parents begin to recognise the signs that mean a baby welcomes the massage and also picks up those that mean, ‘no not just now’ or ‘I’ve had enough.’ They have to recognise and respect  that a baby can make decisions like this even at a very young age.

The massage stimulates all the major systems of the body for example the circulatory, digestive, immune and nervous systems. It is also very good for stimulating mind and body awareness and development of the senses. Very importantly it is also very good for early stages of language development. Parents are encouraged to talk and sing to their baby. It is so much better for them to hear their parent’s voice than some background CD however well produced.

Babies who are massaged regularly are relaxed babies. They exhibit lower levels of stress and stress hormones because parents listen to them and respect them. They have greater levels of flexibility in their limbs and they have good sleep patterns.  Infant massage is also an excellent natural help for colic, constipation and tension.

As well as being good therapy for the baby it is also excellent for parents. It helps them to understand and enjoy their baby more and
helps mums suffering from postnatal depression. It enhances parents’ confidence. It is a fantastic experience for all parents and all babies.

More information and a list of local Certified Infant Massage Instructors
(CIMI) can be found by visiting www.iaim.org.uk

Maria Nortcliffe CIMI