Updated: Jun 23, 2018
I am writing this article to share with all of you parents my personal journey in becoming an infant massage instructor. Learning to become an IAIM (International Association of Infant Massage) instructor was one of the most beautiful experiences that I have ever gone through. As instructors we are fortunate to witness a baby massage class as part of the training. It was in this class that I was able to witness the magnifying effects of infant massage. There was one little 6-week-old baby with colic, who during the massage stopped crying for one of the first times in a long while. His mother was in awe! I witnessed a dad and his little girl display an unbreakable bond of love and connection. This class was not only for the babies. I observed how much these parents enjoyed one another’s company, staying for an extra cup of tea and a biscuit.
My love for the program grew exponentially when running my own baby massage classes. There is an indescribable, awe-inspiring aura of love and respect that fills the room. The baby’s absolutely love receiving this nurturing touch, and they unexpectedly love watching one another, gazing around the room at other little faces like theirs. My favourite is when fathers bring their baby. Babies and their mothers have an instinctive bond and need. But fathers require slightly more work. I love witnessing a father’s gentle touch and pooling love for his little bundle of joy. Infant massage isn’t just another baby group, it forms a beautiful friendship among mother and child and all those in the group. It is also full of benefits for the parent and the child.
The benefits of Infant Massage
The benefits for the baby are grouped as follows, with a few of the examples:
Interaction: promotion of bonding; secure attachment between infant and parent; communication (verbal and non-verbal); respect; one on one quality time; love; tolerance; nurturing touch; pre-language and communication skills
Relief: assist with the relief of colic and gas; constipation and elimination; gastrointestinal cramps; teething; growing pains; muscular tension; sensitivity to touch; disorganisation of the nervous system
Relaxation: can be observed through improved sleep patterns; normalised muscle tone; increased flexibility; being calm; regulation of behavioural states; relaxation due to oxytocin and serotonin release (anti-stress hormones); higher levels of dopamine; improved self-regulation
Stimulation of: the circulatory system; digestive system; hormonal system; immune system; nervous system; vestibular system; respiratory system; language development; muscular development and tone; sensory integration; body awareness.
A bit more about bonding
Vimala McClure describes bonding is an innate, animalistic experience between a parent and an infant. The bonding period is crucial in the first year of life and without a secure attachment and bonding process; there can be lifelong effects. This feeds so much into the importance of IAIM, its vision and mission. It is so wonderful having gone through the group process to observe how nurturing touch can increase the love and bond between a parent and an infant. I witnessed the babies and their parents falling in love. Infant massage is such a special tool to have in the home, especially in today’s society where both parents are working and the baby doesn’t get unlimited, unconditional love and time from their parents. The bonding process is further aided by the release of maternal and paternal hormones that assist with the babies temperature regulation, immunizing bacteria and the transfer antibodies. The baby also learns of the important verbal and non-verbal cues such as vocalization and eye contact that is later used as a tool to bond further.
More about me: I am an occupational therapist with a special interest in pediatrics and early childhood development. I have completed my training in sensory integration, I am DIR floortime trained and I have completed additional training in neonatal ICU and developmental care. I have the privilege of running infant massage classes at our practice, Nurtured Life at Mediwell Centre, Dainfern Square on Tuesdays. Please feel free to contact me on
083 644 7202 to make a booking or with any questions or queries.