Massage therapy is one of the oldest medical arts in history, dating back to ancient China, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. The benefits of massage therapy for adults have long been known to most cultures, rarely disputed by doctor's therapists. But in eastern cultures, massage therapy has also been used to benefit babies for thousands of years. Westerners have been slowly catching on to this idea as eastern cultures are coming to their shores.
The thing that has hindered widespread adoption of infant massage is a basic misunderstanding of what massage therapy is all about. Essentially, massage therapy is a technique of touching and manipulating skin, muscle tissue, and joints as a means of relaxing the recipient. With baby massage the principles are the same, it's just that the techniques are modified to accommodate the fragile nature of the baby's body.
According to numerous studies, an infant who regularly receives massage will benefit in several ways including an increased awareness of his environment, better digestion and circulation, less fussiness and crying, and deeper, longer sleep. Some experts even believe babies who have received consistent massage develop a sense of self-awareness sooner than other babies, resulting in better self esteem later in life.
For parents, engaging in infant message means a stronger bond with their child, longer periods of quiet contentment, an equal sense of relaxation, and much needed parental confidence. If nothing else, there's little doubt that the touch of a parent's hand on the bare skin of her baby brings a healing element that can't be quantified.
Practising baby massage isn't all too difficult, but proper training will make the experience easier for those just getting started. Training also gives an added measure of safety for the child. Instructional videos and books are a good place to learn for parents who simply want to implement this in their own homes.
Health professionals and therapists are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of baby massage. In fact, many are learning the necessary skills to teach parents with the goal of helping to improve their overall parenting. Training and certification to become infant massage teachers is provided by a number of institutions like Hands on babies, Touch-Learn and Littlekidz.
One of the oldest infant massage organizations is the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), founded in 1981 by Vimala Schneider McClure. The organization's certification program has been around for more than 15 years and is recognized throughout the world as one of the best. Their devotion to this practice for so many years has helped re-establish baby massage as a legitimate medical art.
The western world has been slow to adapt many ancient eastern traditions like infant massage. But as just as acupuncture, meditation, and Shiatsu massage have all gained acceptance as standard therapeutic practice, baby message is growing in use among paediatricians, mid-wives, child health professionals, and parents alike. We all desire the best for our babies, even if it comes in the form of a good, healthy massage.
Imogen J Rice is an Early Child Development specialist who assists new parents in learning the necessary skills to raise children. Her writing contributions are featured on a variety of online publications. More information about infant massage and training can be found at https://handsonbabies.co.uk/
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