by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016
In almost all of my infant massage classes, I discuss with caregivers the many benefits of massaging their children. Of course, I want parents to understand why it is important to consider massaging their children, and at the very least, ensure they provide appropriate interactive and stimulating opportunities.
During my classes I share information about the many digestive benefits, and how massage can help many babies sleep deeper and for longer periods of time, but there always seems to be a question of whether massage can make their baby smarter.
My response to this; “Do you want the best future for your child? Then you need to stimulate their mind right from the start!”
The majority of a child’s brain development takes place prior to the age of six years old, with the most significant progress being made before the age of three. Day-to-day experiences and activities contribute to this development. When an infant is born, their brain is not fully developed. It is the old use it or lose it principle. If specific neurons are not stimulated during this formidable time, then they are lost. Their function is considered not needed, and they fall away. These neural pathways are created and stimulated through close interaction, and ultimately contribute to a child’s intelligence level.
Introducing Infant Massage to your Baby
The development of the child’s brain is determined by the quality and quantity of experiences they are exposed too, especially, during the first year of life. This is one of the most crucial development periods and it is often during this time that we introduce infant massage. Research has found that early experiences that enrich brain development in children assists in producing rich fully formed adult brains. Basic experiences contribute to these opportunities, and in turn make babies smarter. These include experiences of love, security and trust, which enable young children to become more competent, intelligent and empathetic as they grow and develop.
Research in the Field of Infant Massage
If you review research in the field of infant massage and touch therapy, you will find information which has demonstrated that massage does make babies smarter. According to Dr. Tiffany Field PhD of the Touch Research Institute in Miami, studies show that a five-minute massage enhances the performance of babies and children on tasks requiring attentiveness. So, in some ways this might indicate an increase in intelligence.
Just ask Parents who have been Massaging their Children
However, even better is to just ask parents who have been massaging their children, since they were infants and see what they think. You might be surprised at the responses. Just recently I spoke with a mom who took an infant massage class when her now five year old, was only 8 weeks old. She reported that she has noticed a significant difference in her child’s ability as compared to other children. Not only did she develop different motor skills sooner than her playmates, she also walked earlier and appears to focus more fully. “When she was a toddler, her level of concentration and focus was much different than other three year olds,” says mom. “She explored just like the other kids, but she didn’t seem to lose her train of thought. There were times when we would even be able to sit together for lengths of time and have great conversations.”
Parents say: “Yes, absolutely!, Massage made our Babies Smarter”
I’ve asked other parents if they think massage can make their babies smarter and the overwhelming response I receive is “Yes, absolutely!” I, too, agree with this response and can only see how this type of loving interaction would absolutely make babies smarter.
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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