The Power of Touch for Infants

By Erica Earhart

While all mommas are eager to learn tips from other parents, we know that opinions are as plentiful as dirty diapers once the baby arrives. While some ascribe to parenting methods that take more of a hands-off approach, it is our belief as Certified Educators of Infant Massage (CEIMs) that the more hands-on you are early in infants’ lives, the moreindependent and confident they will be as adults.

In the early 1900’s Dr. Luther Emmett Holt was considered one of the foremost experts in pediatric medicine. He developed the theory that parents were spoiling their children if they held and cuddled them too much.

This was a sad time in American history for our babies because parents were trying to do the “right” thing by listening to the experts.Although we now have lots of research that demonstrates the fallibilityin these theories, ideas that originated from this time period are, sadly, alive and well today.

Infant massage offers parents another level of bonding with their babies. The benefits of touch through infant massage routines are virtually limitless. Besides building trust and security, the power of regular massage can help calm a baby who may have had a difficult entry into the world.

It can soothe a little one suffering from colic. It can help alleviate digestive issues and teething pain. It can help mom and dad FINALLY get some sleep because they’ve provided the touch the baby needs to be able to relax and fall into deep slumber.

As well, babies who seemingly have no issues benefit just as much from infant massage. It also provides an amazing opportunity for dad to get some precious bonding time.

CEIM-led classes teach parents how to massage their baby in 4-5 sessions, held once a week. During these sessions parents learn the strokes that are some of the most effective means of soothing a baby.

The classes also offer an occasion for new parents to discuss topics andshare advice in making the most of these amazing years. By using touch,infants begin to learn where their body starts and stops, which is a crucial step in understanding their place in the world.

Hold your baby close and cuddle often, and try infant massage to connect even more with your little one!

Erica Earhart, the owner of Beltway Medical Massage in Falls Church, is aCertified Massage Therapist, Certified Educator of Infant Massage, and mom to Oliver. Beltway Medical Massage offers and infant massage classesmonthly and free childcare during massage therapy sessions. Details canbe found at www.beltwaymassage.com.

For More Information

Learn more about the science of physical contact with your infant

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=infant-touch

A review of infant massage for Preterm babies

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2844909/

Find more research about the benefits of touch from the Touch Research Institute at http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/

Learn about Infant Massage USA’s mission and find a class near you! http://www.infantmassageusa.org

About WF Staff

Washington FAMILY Staff

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