(Our favorite baby massage oils: 1. Jurlique Baby’s Calming Massage Oil 2. Weleda Baby Tummy Oil 3. Erbaviva Baby Oil 4. Bamford Organic Baby Bath and Massage Oil 5. Beginning Cocooning Massage Oil 6. California Baby Massage Oil)
I had the great fortune (and by “fortune” I actually mean total hell) of having not one, but, wait for it, two colicky, acid-reflux ridden babies. Suffice to say, we quickly amassed an arsenal of strategies to make them comfortable and keep us sane, including: rocking, long drives around the neighborhood, sleeping on a wedge (them), vodka (us), Feist tunes on repeat (it was the only thing that would stop Millie’s 2:00 a.m. crying jags, go figure), and baby massage. The ritual of an evening bath followed by gently rubbing their little tummies with lavender oil became our panacea, the lavender working its calming magic on us as much as them. While we used massage to soothe our aching littles, the practice is hugely beneficial for all babies. I asked Dallas mom and CEIM Certified Educator of Infant Massage, Marina Spriggs to give us the full low-down.
Infant Massage has been around long before record in many cultures. Although some trace massage back to China in 3000BC. Infant massage never really had a name, it was simply the touching of the baby that was passed along from generation to generation.
So, how did infant massage get to the United States? A woman named Vimala McClure was visiting India and witnessed a 12 year old girl that was assigned to massage all the children in the orphanage. She noticed that these children were thriving even though they lacked proper nutrition.
When she returned home and was expecting her first child, she began to gather more information on infant development. She combined her experience with Indian massage, reflexology, and yoga and put together a book for parents in 1977. This was the same year she began training instructors in the United States. She heads the largest infant massage organization known as the International Association of Infant Massage.
Today science has acknowledged what Vimala observed back in the 70s. Infant massage does some amazing things. Many hospitals are mandating that their NICU nurses become certified in Infant Massage. In my training, there were many NICU nurses from Cook Children’s Medical Center – one of the largest NICU’s in the country being trained because they believe in the benefits.
Benefits of Infant Massage:
- Helps relieve discomfort from gas, colic, and constipation
- Improves blood circulation
- Reduces stress hormones
- Speeds myelination of the brain and nervous system
- Increases oxygen saturation in preemies
- Improves immune function
- Releases oxytocin
- Aids in digestion
- Increases alertness and awareness
- Helps build self esteem and a positive body image
A good time to start infant massage is right around 4 weeks. A regular routine of infant massage is a wonderful time for the mother and father to not only get to know their baby intimately, but give their child this wonderful gift that has so many benefits.
Infant massage is very popular all over Europe and the UK and has only recently made it way to the mainstream in the United States. I was visiting a friend about 10 years ago in London who had a very colicky baby. The only thing that calmed him down was infant massage. She went to a class regularly and swore that it was the only thing that calmed her son down. I witnessed the transformation first hand.
A certified Infant Massage Instructor can show you how to perform infant massage for your baby. In four separate one hour sessions spaced a week apart – you can learn the skills that Vimala McClure brought to the US many years ago. Try it on your little one or give a great gift to a new mommy. After all, a calm happy baby makes mom happy.
Marina Spriggs is a CEIM, Certified Educator of Infant Massage. The Dallas mom of three is the founder of Sweet Pea Baby Massage.