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The Therapy of a Loving Touch

Kelly Lott, Certified Massage Therapist


The loving touch of infant massage has many benefits for both parent and baby individually, as well as strengthening their bond.

Massage is great for baby, too! After your baby is born, consider infant massage to strengthen the bond between you and your baby. Massage is known to contribute to the development of secure, self-confident children. Research supports the fact that a loving, nurturing touch is necessary for the proper physical and psychological development of children. Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Center at the University of Miami, reports that: "...massaged infants are more active, gain weight faster and become more efficient. It's amazing how much information is communicable in a touch..." Massage to help upset tummies
Is your little one gassy or spitting up a lot after feedings? Try this massage technique: Before your baby eats, massage the entire stomach area, lightly yet firmly, in a clockwise direction. Always use an edible oil, as the baby's fingers will probably go into the mouth. (Corn, vegetable or virgin olive oils are great.) Do not use mineral oils.

Facing the baby, start massaging with your fingertips from left to right. You can use circular motions, or rainbow shape strokes. This helps the digestion, and helps to pass the gas. Don't massage counterclockwise, this can cause constipation. Moving the gas can be painful, so be sure to massage slowly. This should help keep the food down, and with less discomfort. You can do this for a few minutes before each meal and before bed, makes for a better night's sleep!

Massage to calm your baby
If you have an inconsolable baby, extremely fussy, can't be comforted situation, try massaging your baby's feet. Use edible oil, warm your hands together and slowly massage one foot at a time. If you massage too fast, this can overstimulate and cause further fussiness. Talk or sing slowly and with a lowered voice. Also try gently holding their feet in your hands, and sing. Slowly massaging the baby's head is also very comforting. No need for oil, just the palm of your hand in gentle circular motions.

Infant massage and movement provide the following benefits to infants and parents: support of the bonding process;release of muscular tension created by motor skills acquisition;may calm anxious babies and relieve symptoms of colic;contributes to brain and motor development, self-esteem and pleasure in their bodies;supports learning appropriate posture and movement patterns.Books on infant massage Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala Schneider McClure (Bantam Doubleday Dell) A very popular book, recently expanded and updated, inluding fascinating new research about the effects of touch on parent-child bonding, infant stress, sensory development, and the care of special-needs babies.Baby Massage: A Practical Guide to Massage and Movement for Babies and Infants by Peter Walker (St. Martin's Press) This book details a simple, effective, and safe way for parents to discover the magic and healing powers of gentle, loving touch. Twenty-one color photos and more than 100 detailed line illustrations.The Book of Baby Massage: For a Happier, Healthier Child by Peter Walker and Janet Balaskas (Kensington Publishing) Co-written by the founder of Britain's Active Birth Centre.Baby Massage: Parent-Child Bonding Through Touch by Amelia D. Auckett and Dr Tiffany Field. You can also order Dr Field's video, Baby Massage and Exercise, via Babies Today and

Kelly Lott is a Registered Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Therapy Instructor, Certified Pregnancy Massage Therapist, and Certified Infant Massage Instructor in Texas. She has been in practice since 1990. She is an advocate of involving birth partners in massage, and teaches massage techniques to birth partners so they may use them before and during labor. She can be reached toll-free at 1-888-274-9904.

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Sona Oct 14, 2005 05:10:30 PM ET

I love infant massage. I started when my first son was born and really had no idea what to do. I learned it and had a wonderful time. He was such a great sleeper after the massage. It was also just a fun bonding moment. I would really suggest to all new parents to take a class or read a book on massage. I also just bought the new infant massage dvd, babytata. That dvd was great as well. Have fun and go infant massage!

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