by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016
No one in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or Sweden, can take credit for the invention of infant massage.
I am often asked this question, “So, you invented infant massage?” Of course, I answer honestly, “No!” No one in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom or Sweden, can take credit for the invention of infant massage. Sure, there are people who wish to take credit, because they share infant massage in their communities and abroad. However, the truth is, infant massage is the property of the world. It has been passed on from culture to culture, in a way of honoring our children to become healthy members of our world community. Yes, I have a method of teaching infant massage that is effective, evidence-based, safe, loving and professionally appropriate. I may have invented my way of sharing this parenting tradition, but it is important that we honor those from which we borrow the loving practice of infant massage.
Many of our attitudes around the care and treatment of infants, has been influenced by those who have come before us.
Throughout the world, infants have received different amounts of honor and respect, which goes in line with the care they receive. In many societies, nurturing and close physical contact is the regular standard of care. While in other parts of the world, babies are not picked up when they cry and left alone to cry to sleep. Many of our attitudes around the care and treatment of infants, has been influenced by those who have come before us. Nurturing touch and massage is a valuable part of that tradition of care.
We can trace nurturing parenting practices and massage back thousands of years to various cultures around the world.
In numerous areas of India, Asia, Africa, South America and the South Pacific, massage is part of regular parenting practices and is handed down from generation to generation. Grandmother teaches mother, mother teaches daughter and baby receives full benefits of this loving tradition.
In other parts of the world, massage is practiced for a variety of reasons. Such as in, New Zealand, the Maori mothers provide massage for their babies in the hopes of straightening their legs and improving their nose shape. Cuban mothers rub their baby’s tummies with a mixture of oil and garlic to cure their tummy aches. Many Samoan families believe massage with coconut milk, flowers and grass roots may provide the ‘cure” for anything from baby’s diarrhea to an adult’s headache.
Nepalese infants are massaged frequently, often outside in the warm rays of the sunlight. It is common practice to provide baby massage with mustard seed oil, and in Indonesia they often use neem oil.
In China, techniques of pediatric and infant massage have been practiced by medical professionals for thousands of years, often under the auspice of a practice known as Tuina. In Thailand, there has been a long history of Thai massage which utilizes techniques of following meridians and increased range of motion. Clinical interest in the benefits of infant and pediatric massage has undergone a recent boost in Thailand, following results from a number of local studies including a research study indicating that Thai massage is beneficial for children with Autism.
In many parts of Europe, the United States and Canada, infant massage gradually gains popularity as a loving parenting practice to introduce to babies and adopt as a family tradition. A large body of touch therapy research lends credibility to the many benefits of the practice of infant massage.
An important distinction with infant massage currently practiced in the Western World
Certified Infant Massage Teachers provide classes and lessons to parents and caregivers of babies in infant massage techniques. Then these nurturing techniques are utilized by the caregivers to provide healthy development for their children. The infant massage strokes are never used with an infant who is not in the mood to receive massage. Every infant must be a willing participant, and infant massage is never done to a baby, but rather with the baby. Close eye-to-eye contact, verbalization, communication and watching of infant cues are key parts of western infant massage therapy.
Massage therapy practitioners should not provide massage for infants who are healthy, and would otherwise receive increased benefit through massage from their caregiver. When the baby has special healthcare needs, infant massage may be provided by a medical professional. Otherwise, the baby’s caregiver is the best person to massage their own child!
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)
(If you would like to republish the above article, Specializing in Infant Massage, please e-mail your request and where it will reside to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a short bio you can use with it for your site.)