by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016
Babies and children simply love to be touched. In fact, they thrive on it and it is a crucial part of their development. Children need physical contact for healthy growth and development, and massage can play an important role in nourishing this growth.
Normal affectionate touching is important however, a regular routine of infant massage can offer additional benefits to both the caregiver and child. Nurturing touch promotes physiological, neurological and psychological development and function. Studies have shown increased weight gain, improved immune function, and myelination of nerves. All of which are needed to encourage appropriate brain and muscle development.
Much of the research available today supports benefits of infant massage for babies born prematurely. This research has been ongoing since the 1970's, and has been conducted at various institutes with infants who were born prematurely, exposed to drugs in utero, and infants that had developmental and motor problems. All categories of these babies showed benefits after receiving nurturing touch.
One specific study performed at the Touch Research Institute in Miami was the massage of preterm infants to improve growth and development. The data of this study suggests that the growth and development of newborn infants can be facilitated by tactile-kinesthetic stimulation. Greater weight gain and superior performance on developmental assessments persisted across the first six months for the group of infants that received the massage treatment. Dr. Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute has suggested that these enduring effects may be mediated by better parent-infant interactions. Heightened responsiveness of the newborn infant may enhance the early parent-infant relationships which may, in turn, contribute to optimal growth and development at later stages in infancy.
Healthy, well babies can also experience a variety of behavioral and developmental improvements when they receive regular massage from their parents or caregivers. These benefits may include weight gain, neurological development, decreased hospitalization, and improved digestion.
In addition to the many actual physical benefits, massage can become a regular time for parents check in with their baby, alerting parents to subtle changes in their baby’s health and encouraging the parent to communicate with their baby in a language they understand – touch. If massage is a regular scheduled time of the day, it can also result in precious relaxation time for both parent and child. With the baby lying on their back, making eye to eye contact with mom or dad, they receive full focused attention that results in full communication and support. Massage enhances communication and deepens feelings of attachment between parent and baby promoting the physical and emotional well-being of babies and young children.
Specially trained Certified Infant Massage Teachers (CIMTs)
Through working as a Certified Infant Massage Teacher you have the special opportunity to impact an infant and their family for a lifetime.
This professional training is for those interested in working with families by becoming a Certified Infant Massage Teacher (CIMT®). A CIMT® is not only an instructor, but also an educator who teaches the art of infant massage to parents or caregivers in the presence of their babies.
For more information visit Comprehensive Infant Massage Teacher Training Course (CIMT)
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