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Baby Massage

A baby massage (infant massage)is the process of rubbing a baby's muscles & stroking them in a routine designed specifically for them. Baby massages are a tradition in some cultures dating back a very long time. It wasn't actually practiced in the West until the early 1970's.
Baby Massage

In This Article
History: How does it work?:
A typical appointment: Timings/ Cost/ Sessions:
Is it right for you?:
Baby massage and infant massage derive from the traditional massage therapy used by Egyptian, Greek, Indian and Far Eastern civilisations thousands of years ago. Baby massage blends Indian massage methods from ancient Ayurvedic medicine and the Swedish massage techniques developed by former gymnast and physician Per Henrik Ling in the 18th century.

Baby massage was introduced to the West by American Vimala McClure. After working in orphanages in Northern India, McClure observed babies being massaged by their mothers at the roadside. When she fell ill, McClure experienced the massage first-hand and noted how comforting and therapeutic it was.

In the late 1970s, McClure returned to the US and began teaching baby massage from her home. McClure's methods incorporated Reflexology and Yoga stretches and she named the stroking techniques involved. By 1978, McClure had developed a training program and written the first book on the subject titled " Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents".

Baby and infant massages works on four levels: bonding, relaxation, stimulation and relief. Interaction through touch develops strong bonds between the parent and child. Human contact is a basic need and an important part of creating trust, faith and love. When these foundations are laid down at an early stage, they can last a lifetime.

The relaxing effects of baby massage can help to regulate both parent and child's sleep patterns and breathing. Relaxation releases endorphins (the feel-good chemical in the body) and reduces stress levels. The hormone 'oxytocin' is also raised aiding breastfeeding and beneficial if the mother is suffering post-natal depression.

Baby massage stimulates the child's bodily functions such as digestion and circulation and boosts the immune and nervous systems. Baby massage improves physical movement and joint mobility leading to better co-ordination. Massaging also relieves the symptoms of infant colic, wind and constipation and the discomfort felt during teething.

Be prepared - It is advisable to choose a baby massage instructor who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your baby massage course is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main baby massage organisations are listed at the foot of this article. On finding a baby massage instructor, ask about their expertise and testimonials from previous clients.

Baby massage is a learning experience and the techniques are taught by an instructor so the parent can carry out the massage techniques at home. There are a number of environments in which to learn baby massage. Group classes are the most popular because of the social element and the chance for parents to create new friendships (beneficial to people who are new to an area). Baby massage courses can also take place in the community, on a one-to-one basis or at home. Consult with your local instructor on locations for your baby massage course.

What to expect - The course will begin with your instructor explaining the different elements and techniques involved with baby massage and their benefits to parent and child. They will also instruct you on safety, positioning, communication (eye contact, body language), suitable massage oils, how to create a relaxing environment, interpretation of baby's signals and asking permission of the child.

During the instruction, you will be the only person massaging your baby. The instructor will have a doll to demonstrate the massage sequences and will be on-hand to observe and instruct you. If you have twins, you can bring someone along to help or with your permission the instructor will massage the other twin for you.

At the end of the session, the instructor may provide handouts to use as a guide for practising baby massage at home. There may also be an opportunity to chat with other class members and the instructor over a cup of coffee.

Baby massage classes generally last about an hour but the first class may take longer as introductions and explanations are made. One-to-one sessions at home can fit around your own schedule and last from 30-60 minutes.

Costs vary depending on the location of your class. Group classes average around £10-£15 per class and private classes around £20-£25. Some instructors provide oils for you to use at home within the cost but be aware that you may have to buy these yourself. Special colic relief courses are available at home and these incur an additional cost.

Baby massage courses are usually 4-5 classes over as many weeks. This is usually sufficient time for the parent to have mastered the techniques involved and carry on with the therapy as the child grows. You may find it beneficial to have refresher courses or learn other techniques as the child gets older.

Baby massage is a safe, sociable and fun therapy that can benefit both the parent and child from birth and throughout childhood. Baby massage can also be a good way to overcome twin sibling rivalry and bring families closer together. Baby massage is best learnt when the child is not able to crawl or move around too much.

Consult with your GP and baby massage instructor about any medical problems or concerns you have with your child as they are trained to recognise what can and cannot be treated with the therapy. 

This therapy or modality may help with:

Abdominal Pain Blood pressure Breathing disorders
Bronchitis Circulation Problems Constipation
Diarrhoea Digestive Problems Eczema
Immune System Dysfunction Indigestion Infant colic
Morning sickness Muscle Cramps Personal development
Stomach cramps Stress Tiredness
Toothache Urinary Problems

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Featured Baby Massage Practitioners

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About Therapist Qualifications

International Association of Infant Massage International Association of Infant Massage More Info Massage Training Institute (MTI) Massage Training Institute (MTI) More Info
Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) More Info


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