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Infant Massage

Infant massage

Definition

Infant massage is the process of rubbing an infant's muscles and stroking the infant in a manner specifically designed for them. Although there are professionally trained and certified infant massage therapists, the obvious first choice to massage the baby is the mother, father, grandparent, or guardian. Equally important are the people who care for children outside the home such as, nurses on neonatal intensive care units (NICU) that work with premature babies and those who work with the disabled. The benefits derived from massage are applicable and advantageous for all of these groups.

Purpose

Infant massage provides many benefits for the infant. A caring touch is good for everyone, but especially for infants who are new to the world and need the reassurance of someone special being there for them. However, there are some major benefits for the massage givers as well. They gain an increased awareness of the baby and his or her needs while enhancing the bonding process between care giver and baby. Research from experiments conducted at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Nova Southeastern University has been cited for the clinical benefits massage has on infants and children. Touch therapy triggers many physiological changes that help infants and children grow and develop.

Studies have shown that infant massage alleviates the stress that newborns experience as a result of the enormous change that birth creates. They have just spent nine months in a home that fed them; kept them warm; brought them the oxygen they needed; took care of waste products; and provided a gentle rocking motion to soothe them. Now, the outside world has taken over, and things are not as simple as they were. Massage enables a smoother transition from the comfortable womb to that of humankind. The benefits of massage for the infant include:

  • It helps baby learn to relax.
  • It improves immune system.
  • It promotes bonding and communication.
  • It promotes positive body image.
  • It decreases the production of stress hormones.
  • It promotes sounder and longer sleep.
  • It helps to regulate digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems.
  • It helps relieve discomfort from gas and colic , congestion, and teething.

The benefits of massage for parents include:

  • It improves parent-infant communication.
  • It helps parents to understand and respond appropriately to baby's nonverbal cues.
  • It eases stress of parent who must be separated from child during the day.
  • It promotes feelings of competence and confidence in caring for baby.
  • It provides a special focused time that helps deepen bonding.
  • It increases parents' ability to help child relax in times of stress.
  • It is fun and relaxing for parents to massage their children.

There are additional benefits that can be derived from infant massage to elicit positive outcomes for premature infants and disadvantaged mothers. They include:

  • Cross-cultural studies show that babies who are held, massaged, carried, rocked, and breast fed grow into less aggressive and violent adults who demonstrate a greater degree of compassion and cooperation.
  • Recent research demonstrates benefits for premature infants, children with asthma , diabetes, and certain skin disorders.
  • Mothers with postpartum depression have shown improvement after starting infant massage.
  • Teenage mothers have shown improved bonding behavior and interactions with their infants.

Description

Origins

Infant massage is an ancient practice used primarily in Asian and Pacific Island cultures because touch in these cultures is considered healthful both physically and spiritually. For example, the inclusion of infant massage into regular bath time is typical of the Maoris and Hawaiians. With the introduction of infant massage in the West in the late 1970s, it was tested to prove or disprove its efficacy. Dr. Frederick Leboyer, a French physician who advocated natural childbirth , supported the interest in infant massage with the publication of his photojournalistic book on the Indian art of baby massage. He believed that touch is the child's first language and that understanding spoken language comes long after understanding touch.

Infant massage was introduced formally into the United States in 1978 when Vimala Schneider McClure, a yoga practitioner who served in an orphanage in Northern India, developed a training program for instructors at the request of childbirth educators. An early research study by R. Rice in 1976 had shown that premature babies who were massaged surged ahead in weight gain and neurological development over those who were not massaged. McClure's practice in India, her knowledge of Swedish massage and reflexology along with her knowledge of yoga postures, which she had already adapted for babies, served to make her the foremost authority on infant massage. The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) had its origins in 1980 and was incorporated in 1986 by McClure and her original seven trainers. As of 2004, there were over 30 countries that have chapters of IAIM and over 15,000 certified instructors have been trained in the United States.

Various techniques are used in infant massage, with the different strokes specific to a particular therapy. Special handling is used for treating a baby with gas and colic. Some of the strokes are known as Indian milking, which is a gentle stroking of the child's legs; and the twist and squeeze stroke, a gentle squeeze of the muscles in the thigh and calf. The light strokes often employed in regular Swedish massage are applied at the end of a massage. The procedure is not unlike certain forms of adult massage, but with extra care taken for the fragility of the infant.

There are also specific Chinese techniques of pediatric massage, including massage of children with special needs. In China, these forms of massage can be given by medical professionals, but parents are often taught how to do the simpler forms for home treatment of their children.

Preparation

It is good to get a baby into a routine for massage. The time can be early in the morning, after a bath, or just before bedtimethe caregiver and baby know what is best and the time can be determined by the response. The room needs to be warm because the baby's clothes will be removed and infants have a difficult time regulating their body temperature. This is especially true for premature babies. It is preferable to have the room not be too bright with electrical light or sunlight shining on the baby's face. Research has shown that babies prefer to be massaged with oil such as a vegetable or plant oil. Traditional baby oils are mineral based, which are not readily absorbed. The two oils preferred by most massage therapists are grape seed oil and sweet almond oil. A caregiver can try both and see which is the most desirable. Generally, removing the diaper permits greater freedom of movement for the baby. For protection, the baby can by placed on a thick towel.

Precautions

It is necessary to use caution when performing infant massage in order not to injure the infant. Strokes are made with the greatest delicacy, and appropriate techniques are taught by licensed massage therapists to ensure that the infant is treated with accepted physical touch. Anyone who is unfamiliar with handling a baby should receive appropriate instruction before beginning infant massage.

Risks

No adverse side effects have been reported when infant massage is done properly after careful instruction, or by a licensed massage therapist who specializes in infant care.

Normal results

Many studies have been mentioned relating to the benefits of massage and there has been research published as early as 1969 relating to the topic. Hundreds of individual projects have been conducted throughout the world focusing on infant massage. Many of the studies are related to the benefits of massage and touch for premature infants and others born with such risk factors as drug dependence or cerebral palsy . Needless to say, the benefits are overwhelmingly positive and the research indicates that infant massage is increasingly recognized as a legitimate health care treatment.

Resources

BOOKS

Auckett, A. D. Baby Massage: Parent-Child Bonding through Touch. Reissue edition. New York, NY: Newmarket Press, 2004.

Cline, K., LMT. Chinese Massage for Infants and Children: Traditional Techniques for Alleviating Colic, Teething Pain, Earache, and Other Common Childhood Conditions. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, Limited, 1999.

Ferber, S. G., M. Laudon, J. Kuint, et al. "Massage Therapy by Mothers Enhances the Adjustment of Circadian Rhythms to the Nocturnal Period in Full-Term Infants." Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 23, no. 6 (Dec. 2002).

Gordon, J., MD, and B. Adderly. Brighter Baby: Boosting Your Child's Intelligence, Health and Happiness through Infant Therapeutic Massage. Washington, DC: LifeLine Press, 1999.

Kluck-Ebben, M. Hands On Baby Massage. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press Book Publishers, 2004.

McClure, V. S. Infant MassageRevised Edition: A Handbook for Loving Parents. New York: Bantam Books, 2000. Periodicals

ORGANIZATIONS

International Association of Infant Massage. IAIM Corporate Office, 1891 Goodyear Avenue, Suite 622, Ventura, CA 93003. (805)644-7699. Web site: <http://www.iaim-us.com>.

International Institute of Infant Massage. 605 Bledsoe Rd., NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107. (505)341-9381. Fax: (505)341-9386. Web site: <http://www.infantmassage.com>.

WEB SITES

Field, Tiffany. Infant Massage. [cited March 5, 2005]. Available online at: <www.zerotothree.org/massage.html>.

Infant Massage [cited March 5, 2005]. Available online at: <http://www.infantmassage.com>.

OTHER

Gentle Touch Parent-Child Program, LLC. Gentle Touch Infant Massage Video. Sylva, NC: Gentle Touch, Inc., 2004.

Linda K. Bennington, MSN, CNS

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"Infant Massage." Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health: Infancy through Adolescence. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Infant Massage." Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health: Infancy through Adolescence. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/infant-massage

Infant Massage

Infant massage

Definition

Infant massage refers to massage therapy as specifically applied to infants. In most cases, oil or lotion is used as it would be on an adult subject by a trained and licensed massage therapist. Medical professionals caring for infants might also use massage techniques on infants born prematurely, on those with motor or gastrointestinal problems, or on those who have been exposed to cocaine in utero.

Origins

The practice of massaging infants dates back to ancient times, particularly in Asian and Pacific Island cultures; that is, massage was a component of the baby's regular bath routine among the Maoris and Hawaiians. Touch in these cultures is considered healthful both physically and spiritually. In the West, however, infant massage has received more attention in recent years in conjunction with the popularity of natural childbirth and midwife-assisted births. Dr. Frédéric Leboyer, a French physician who was one of the leaders of the natural childbirth movement, helped to popularize infant massage through his photojournalistic book on the Indian art of baby massage.

Infant massage was introduced formally into the United States in 1978, when Vimala Schneider McClure, a yoga practitioner who served in an orphanage in Northern India, developed a training program for instructors at the request of childbirth educators. An early research study by R. Rice in 1976 had showed that premature babies who were massaged surged ahead in weight gain and neurological development over those who were not massaged. From McClure's training in India, her knowledge of Swedish massage and reflexology, along with her knowledge of yoga postures that she had already adapted for babies, she became the foremost authority on infant massage. In 1986 she founded the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), which has 27 chapters worldwide as of 2000.

Benefits

Research from experiments conducted at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Nova Southeastern University has been cited for the clinical benefits massage has on infants and children. Tiffany Field, Ph. D., director, noted that the research ".. suggests that touch is as important to infants and children as eating and sleeping. Touch therapy triggers many physiological changes that help infants and children grow and develop. For example, massage can stimulate nerves in the brain which facilitate food absorption, resulting in faster weight gain. It also lowers level of stress hormones, resulting in improved immune function."

The benefits of infant massage include:

  • relaxation
  • relief from stress
  • interaction with adults
  • stimulation of the nervous system

The results of several studies showed that infant massage alleviates the stress that newborns experience as a result of the enormous change that birth brings about in their

lives after the 69 months they have spent in the womb. Both premature infants and full-term babies need the relaxation that comes from massaging and moving their limbs and muscles. In infants with colic , massage provides the relief necessary to disperse gas , ease muscle spasms, tone the digestive system and help it work efficiently. Some techniques even help bring relief from teething and emotional stress. The stimulation an infant receives from massage can aid circulation, strengthen muscles, help digestion, and relieve constipation . The bonding that occurs with massage between a parent and child enhances the entire process of bonding that comes with contact through all of the senses, including touch, voice, and sight. It affords a physical experience of quality time between the parents and the child as well as with any significant others in a baby's life.

Description

Various techniques are used in infant massage, with the different strokes specific to a particular therapy. Special handling is used for treating a baby with gas and colic. Some of the strokes are known as "Indian milking," which is a gentle stroking of the child's legs; and the "twist and squeeze" stroke , a gentle squeeze of the muscles in the thigh and calf. The light "feather" strokes often employed in regular Swedish massage are applied at the end of a massage. The procedure is not unlike certain forms of adult massage, but with extra care taken for the fragility of the infant.

There are also specific Chinese techniques of pediatric massage, including massage of children with special needs. In China, these forms of massage can be given by medical professionals, but parents are often taught how to do the simpler forms for home treatment of their children.

Preparations

If lotions or oils are used, care is taken to ensure their safety on a baby's delicate skin. The most important consideration is to use vegetable oils rather than mineral oils, which can clog the pores in the skin. The oil that is used should be warmed in the caregiver's hands before applying it to the baby's skin. The environment in which the massage is given to an infant should be comfortably warm, and as calm and nonthreatening as possible.

Precautions

Extreme caution is necessary when performing infant massage. Strokes are made with the greatest delicacy in order not to harm the infant in any way. Proper techniques are taught by licensed massage therapists ensuring that the infant is treated with appropriate physical touch. Anyone who is unfamiliar with handling a baby should receive appropriate instruction before beginning infant massage.

Side effects

No adverse side effects have been reported when infant massage is done properly after careful instruction, or by a licensed massage therapist who specializes in infant care.

Research & general acceptance

In addition to the study already noted regarding touch therapy, a website devoted to infant massage lists research published as early as 1969, and cites hundreds of individual projects that have been conducted throughout the world focusing on infant massage. Many of the studies are related to the benefits of massage and touch for premature infants and others born with such risk factors as drug dependence. Conclusions regarding the benefits are overwhelmingly positive. The proliferation of therapists licensed in infant massage across the United States and worldwide indicates that infant massage is increasingly recognized as a legitimate health care treatment.

Training & certification

The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) has developed a basic course for licensing infant massage therapists. The pioneer in the field, Vimala McClure, began to prepare a course of instruction in the 1970s. The course is introduced in four-day sessions around the United States. Licensing is obtained by those who complete the course, pass a take-home examination, and complete a teaching practicum with five families over a three-month period. IAIM listed its course in 2000 as costing $550.00 if paid in full two weeks prior to training, and $595 after that. It includes a $100 nonrefundable deposit due one month before training. The cities where the basic course was offered in 2000 included Augusta, GA; Gaithersburg, MD; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Washington, DC; Charlottesville, VA; Minneapolis, MN; and Albuquerque, NM. In 2000, the International Institute of Infant Massage in Albuquerque also offered an Infant Massage Instructor Certification Course specifically geared to men, entitled "Men Teaching Fathers," and scheduled to last four days.

The licensing of massage therapists varies from state to state, as infant massage qualifies for consideration as medical treatment. Infant massage is becoming an increasingly popular discipline within the field. Numerous websites provide listings for infant massage specialists throughout the United States. The IAIM course is recognized as the official course for infant massage.

Resources

BOOKS

Auckett, Amelia. Baby Massage: Parent-Child Bonding through Touching. New York: Newmarket Press, 1982.

Cline, Kyle. Chinese Massage for Infants and Children: Traditional Techniques for Alleviating Colic, Teething Pain, Earache, and Other Common Childhood Conditions. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, Limited, 1999.

Fan, Ya-Li. Chinese Pediatric Massage Therapy: Traditional Techniques for Alleviating Colic, Colds, Earaches, and Other Common Childhood Conditions, ed. Bob Flaws. Boulder, CO: Blue Poppy Enterprises, 1999.

Gordon, Jay, and Brenda Adderly. Brighter Baby: Boosting Your Child's Intelligence, Health and Happiness through Infant Therapeutic Massage. New York: Regnery Publishing, Inc. 1999.

Heinl, Tina. The Baby Massage Book: Shared Growth through the Hands. Boston, MA: Sigo Press, 1991.

Leboyer, Frédéric. Loving Hands: The Traditional Indian Art of Baby Massage. New York: Knopf, 1976.

McClure, Vimala Schneider. Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents. New York: Bantam Books, 1989.

Walker, Peter. Baby Massage: A Practical Guide to Massage and Movement for Babies and Infants. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

ORGANIZATIONS

International Association of Infant Massage. P.O. Box 1045. Oak View, CA 93022.

International Institute of Infant Massage. 605 Bledsoe Rd. NW. Albuquerque, NM 87107. (505) 341-9381. Fax: (505) 341-9386. http://www.infantmassage.com.

OTHER

Gentle Touch Infant Massage Video. Gentle Touch, Inc. 1996.

Jane Spehar

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"Infant Massage." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/infant-massage-0

Infant Massage

Infant Massage

Definition

Infant massage refers to massage therapy as specifically applied to infants. In most cases, oil or lotion is used as it would be on an adult subject by a trained and licensed massage therapist. Medical professionals caring for infants might also use massage techniques on infants born prematurely, on those with motor or gastrointestinal problems, or on those who have been exposed to cocaine in utero.

Purpose

Research from experiments conducted at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Nova Southeastern University has been cited for the clinical benefits massage has on infants and children. Tiffany Field, Ph. D., director, noted that the research " suggests that touch is as important to infants and children as eating and sleeping. Touch therapy triggers many physiological changes that help infants and children grow and develop. For example, massage can stimulate nerves in the brain which facilitate food absorption, resulting in faster weight gain. It also lowers level of stress hormones, resulting in improved immune function."

The benefits of infant massage include:

  • Relaxation
  • relief from stress
  • interaction with adults
  • stimulation of the nervous system

The results of several studies showed that infant massage alleviates the stress that newborns experience as a result of the enormous change that birth brings about in their lives after the 6-9 months they have spent in the womb. Both premature infants and full-term babies need the relaxation that comes from massaging and moving their limbs and muscles. In infants with colic, massage provides the relief necessary to disperse gas, ease muscle spasm, tone the digestive system and help it work efficiently. Some techniques even help bring relief from teething and emotional stress. The stimulation an infant receives from massage can aid circulation, strengthen muscles, help digestion, and relieve constipation. The bonding that occurs with massage between a parent and child enhances the entire process of bonding that comes with contact through all of the senses, including touch, voice, and sight. It affords a physical experience of quality time between the parents and the child as well as with any significant others in a baby's life.

Description

Origins

The practice of massaging infants dates back to ancient times, particularly in Asian and Pacific Island cultures; that is, massage was a component of the baby's regular bath routine among the Maoris and Hawaiians. Touch in these cultures is considered healthful both physically and spiritually. In the West, however, infant massage has received more attention in recent years in conjunction with the popularity of natural childbirth and midwife-assisted births. Dr. Frédéric Leboyer, a French physician who was one of the leaders of the natural childbirth movement, helped to popularize infant massage through his photojournalistic book on the Indian art of baby massage.

Infant massage was introduced formally into the United States in 1978 when Vimala Schneider McClure, a yoga practitioner who served in an orphanage in Northern India, developed a training program for instructors at the request of childbirth educators. An early research study by R. Rice in 1976 had showed that premature babies who were massaged surged ahead in weight gain and neurological development over those who were not massaged. From McClure's training in India, her knowledge of Swedish massage and reflexology, along with her knowledge of yoga postures that she had already adapted for babies, she became the foremost authority on infant massage. In 1986 she founded the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), which has 27 chapters worldwide as of 2000.

Various techniques are used in infant massage, with the different strokes specific to a particular therapy. Special handling is used for treating a baby with gas and colic. Some of the strokes are known as "Indian milking," which is a gentle stroking of the child's legs; and the "twist and squeeze" stroke, a gentle squeeze of the muscles in the thigh and calf. The light "feather" strokes often employed in regular Swedish massage are applied at the end of a massage. The procedure is not unlike certain forms of adult massage, but with extra care taken for the fragility of the infant.

There are also specific Chinese techniques of pediatric massage, including massage of children with special needs. In China, these forms of massage can be given by medical professionals, but parents are often taught how to do the simpler forms for home treatment of their children.

Preparations

If lotions or oils are used, care is taken to ensure their safety on a baby's delicate skin. The most important consideration is to use vegetable oils rather than mineral oils, which can clog the pores in the skin. The oil that is used should be warmed in the caregiver's hands before applying it to the baby's skin. The environment in which the massage is given to an infant should be comfortably warm, and as calm and non-threatening as possible.

Precautions

Extreme caution is necessary when performing infant massage. Strokes are made with the greatest delicacy in order not to harm the infant in any way. Proper techniques are taught by licensed massage therapists ensuring that the infant is treated with appropriate physical touch. Anyone who is unfamiliar with handling a baby should receive appropriate instruction before beginning infant massage.

Side effects

No adverse side effects have been reported when infant massage is done properly after careful instruction, or by a licensed massage therapist who specializes in infant care.

Research and general acceptance

In addition to the study already noted regarding touch therapy, a website devoted to infant massage lists research published as early as 1969, and cites hundreds of individual projects that have been conducted throughout the world focusing on infant massage. Many of the studies are related to the benefits of massage and touch for premature infants and others born with such risk factors as drug dependence. Conclusions regarding the benefits are overwhelmingly positive. The proliferation of therapists licensed in infant massage across the United States and worldwide indicates that infant massage is increasingly recognized as a legitimate health care treatment.

Resources

BOOKS

Cline, Kyle. Chinese Massage for Infants and Children: Traditional Techniques for Alleviating Colic, Teething Pain, Earache, and Other Common Childhood Conditions. Inner Traditions International, Limited, 1999.

Fan, Ya-Li. Chinese Pediatric Massage Therapy: Traditional Techniques for Alleviating Colic, Colds, Earaches, and Other Common Childhood Conditions, edited by Bob Flaws. Blue Poppy Enterprises, 1999.

Gordon, Jay, and Brenda Adderly. Brighter Baby: Boosting Your Child's Intelligence, Health and Happiness through Infant Therapeutic Massage. New York: Regnery Publishing, Inc. 1999.

ORGANIZATIONS

International Association of Infant Massage. P.O. Box 1045. Oak View, CA 93022.

International Institute of Infant Massage. 605 Bledsoe Rd. NW. Albuquerque, NM 87107. (505) 341-9381. Fax: (505) 341-9386. http://www.infantmassage.com.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

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"Infant Massage." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Infant Massage." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/infant-massage-1

"Infant Massage." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/infant-massage-1