A gentle touch can do wonders to help anyone feel loved and cared for. For an infant that may be going through a fussy period or may be experiencing colic, a gentle touch can help to quiet them in the moment as well as nurture their growth and development, communication and learning.
Vanessa Doherty, a teli Pediatric Occupational Therapist, is accredited through both the International Association of Infant Massage and Infant Massage USA as a Certified Educator for Infant Massage. “I am excited to bring the benefits of infant massage to the children with whom teli is providing Early Intervention services. Particularly for children with developmental delays, infant massage techniques can have a soothing effect on a child.”
What is Infant Massage?
Infant massage had its beginnings in the 1970’s as a technique to quiet premature infants isolated in Neonatal Intensive Care Units with urgent medical needs, as well as in orphanages where human touch had been limited. Incorporating gentle skin to skin touch encouraged sleep and weight gain reducing the risk of infection and other health issues.
The foundation of infant massage is gentle motion in a particular area of an infant’s body, be it the arm, leg, neck, or belly. The repetitive motion over a short period of time can help to loosen muscle tightness, relieve soreness and increase blood flow.
What are the benefits of Infant Massage?
As noted, infant massage can have a soothing and calming effect on a child, but there is more! Vanessa has identified a number of the extended benefits below for both the infant and parent:
- Improved appetite and weight gain
- Muscle tone development
- Improves sleep cycles and routines
- Release of pent up gas and aids in digestion
- Improves blood circulation
- Reduces stress hormone levels
- Improves Immune system function
- Promotes bonding and attachment
- Promotes lactation in breast feeding mothers
- Increases confidence in parenting
- Provides a solution to address stressful parenting situations
Who can benefit from Infant Massage?
“I would argue EVERYONE, “exclaims Vanessa! “While all children can benefit from the techniques used in infant massage, there are some children with particular needs that we focus on within Early Intervention.” Those children and their issues may include:
- Premature infants
- Children with feeding challenges and problems gaining weight
- Children with sleep difficulties
- Low muscle tone
- Cerebral palsy
- Acid Reflux
- Fussy or babies with “colic”
- Recently adopted or foster care children at risk for attachment disorders
- Sensory processing disorders including autism, when an ability to remain calm in changing situations around them is a problem.