Infant Massage

19 years ago, (wow) when I gave birth my first-born, one of the nurses working in the hospital was currently going through the certification process to teach infant massage. As part of her training, she had to lead a 5-week class for new mommies (and/or daddies), and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate.

infantmassage.jpg

Included with the class was this book, Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, by Vimala Schneider McClure (also the author of the beautiful book, The Tao of Motherhood). Long since actively used, it still sits on my shelf (and now in front of me as I write), but leafing through the pages I am reminded what a sweet experience it was... stroking and stretching my tiny boy's body, while he gurgled and kicked and then relaxed under my touch.

Even without a class, McClure's book gives clear instructions and lots of illustrations to assist the reader in massaging their infant. In addition to that, she describes the benefits: how loving skin stimulation is the first communication babies learn, relief of stress, sensory development, and the ever-important bonding experience.

Most importantly, Infant Massage offers a means of empowerment.

For new parents (or even seasoned ones) dealing with an infant can be overwhelming and intimidating. Learning the techniques of loving touch, and the accompanying process of centering oneself, allows for better attunement to the baby's needs, and provides basic skills to deal with common infant issues of colic, stress, over-stimulation... even a means of connection with a developmentally-impaired or premature baby. An added side benefit is that older siblings can be invited to give massage too, as a way of helping them adjust and bond to the new family addition.

This is an experience for the child that will stay with them for life.

Receiving healthy touch from an early age lays a foundation for a healthier self-image, connection with their own feelings, and a knowledge of the difference between healthy and unhealthy touch. Even for parents whose children may be past the infant stage, I highly recommend this book.. as a means of becoming reacquainted with our oldest and most basic language.