Parents across the U.S. are becoming more invested in what’s known as infant massage. According to the Touch Research Institute, more than 100 scientific studies prove massage has positive effects on not only adults but also babies. These positive effects include relief from earaches, sleeping problems, asthma, teething, gas, and more.
“Infant massage is a wonderful added set of skills for a massage therapist,” said executive director of Infant Massage USA Linda Storm to Massage Magazine. “Rather than massaging the babies, the therapist can teach a class of parents who massage their babies.”
As an instructor, the massage therapist is able to teach parents how to calm and reduce pain in their own children. This increases independence in parenthood by giving parents a sense of control through gentle and compassionate touch.
A typical class for parents at the Touch Research Institute in Miami is between 60 to 90 minutes long. Because up to 94% of massage therapists have taken continuing education classes, parents can feel comfortable knowing they’re learning from a professional.
Parents can choose from various types of infant massage programs. Additionally, some massage therapists such as Judith Koch offer infant massage training at home via the Institute of Somatic Therapy.
“There are a myriad of benefits to infant massage, both physiological and psychological,” said Koch. Up to 92% of adults who’ve received a massage agree they’re effective for reducing pain. However, the benefits of infant massage, Koch says, goes beyond those experienced by the infant.
“A new parent massaging [their] infant will reap benefits by taking that quiet time for the two of them together,” said Koch. “It helps enhance communication between infant and parent.” Koch also says the baby may be happier and calmer, which may result in a calmer and more patient household.
The Touch Research Institute isn’t the only place for infant massage training. The World Institute for Nurturing Communication also offers live training based on the research of Dr. Bruce Lipton.
By incorporating the dynamics of epigenetics, the programs offered at the institute are focused on building confidence in a compassionate environment. Parents are taught how to use massage to play with, relax, soothe, and stimulate their infants.
According to Kate Jordan, owner of Bodywork for the Childbearing Year, babies who experience infant massage show signs of greater orientation, excitability, vocalization, and lower rates of depression. Karen Stoner, the owner of A Caring Touch Massage, also points out that babies with chest congestion, a cold, or gas also benefit from massage.
By using soft, careful downward strokes on the child’s face, parents can help relieve sinus pressure. Massage is also known to help the immune system due to its ability to improve blood flow. When blood flow is improved, so is the flow of lymphatic fluid.
“Massage gives parents a sense of control,” said Stoner. “It’s another tool all parents should have.”