Infant Massage Training
Who doesn’t love a massage, especially when the body is tense with stress?
Infant Massage is a beautiful, loving way for parents and babies to begin a lifelong relationship. This positive therapeutic touch promotes early development and mental health for both parent and child.
For infants and young children with retinoblastoma, and their parents, it has the power to provide so much more.
Benefits for Baby
both at home and when in hospital/clinic
- Reduces stress hormones
- Balances pain responses
- Improves immune function
- Improves gastric motility
- Aids digestion
- Facilitates weight gain in neonates
- Regulates behavioural states and promotes sleep
- Decreases irritability
- Enhances bonding and healthy attachment
- Creates a loving, intimate communication between baby and parent
- Strengthens and regulates primary organ systems (respiratory, circulatory, nervous, musculature, digestive and endocrine)
- Promotes social, emotional and cognitive development
Benefits for Parents
- Promotes better understanding of infant’s individual cues
- Enhances communication
- Increases confidence and handling skills
- Provides quality one-on-one interaction time
- Helps parents unwind, relax and reduce stress
- Increases vocalization and direct face to face interaction
- Gives fathers a special time to connect and bond.
Learn How to Massage Your Baby
Whether a child is developing as expected, has occasional childhood illness or significant medical needs, learning appropriate and safe Infant massage techniques can be hugely beneficial. Many videos and other resources are available online, providing valuable learning opportunities when no local instructor is available, but we strongly encourage learning in person.
Infant massage specialists and health professionals recommend parents gain instruction from qualified practitioners wherever possible, especially if the child has a medical condition or is receiving treatment. Group and 1:1 instruction enables your Infant Massage Instructor to highlight safety concerns, adapt approaches, and teach you techniques specific to your child’s individual medical needs. Small group classes also create social and support opportunities during a potentially isolating time in your life.
We recommend learning with a Certified Infant Massage Instructor. CIMIs are trained with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) / World Institute for Nurturing Communication (WINC) to teach infant massage to parents and caregivers. The IAIM/WINC instructors’ curriculum has been refined over 30 years through research, reflective practice and experience. It is taught in more than 50 countries by highly skilled trainers who undergo a minimum 7 year learning program before gaining Trainer qualification.
Only qualified members of the IAIM/WINC can use the CIMI title. Certified Infant Massage Instructors are qualified only to teach the techniques of infant massage, through demonstration. Certification is not a ‘hands on massage’ qualification – it does not qualify the instructor to deliver a massage service directly to babies or children. It also does not qualify the instructor to train parents so they may teach or demonstrate infant massage.
All Certified Infant Massage Instructors Should Be Able To
- Clearly and accurately promote infant massage.
- Explain how nurturing touch can strengthen the bonding process and promote numerous health benefits.
- Demonstrate the full range of massage strokes on a special massage doll.
- Teach the infant massage techniques to both individuals and small groups.
- Create a relaxed environment that encourages informal discussion among parents on many baby/early childhood focused topics.
- Facilitate parent-infant communication, bonding and healthy development.
Massage is truly one of the best ways to bond with your baby or young child and nurture them through their earliest years and challenges of life. Learn the basics with the following two videos. The first covers essential safety guidance and key massage strokes. The second provides a guided demonstration to help you learn how to give your little one a blissful leg to head massage.
7 Infant Massage Tips for Improved Summer Sleep
From our blog – July 5, 2021
Hot weather and changing holiday routines – summer can be unsettling for babies and young children. Add retinoblastoma to the mix, and achieving good sleep at this time of year can be very hard for affected children and siblings. Discover specific practical ways to improve sleep during sultry summer months, whether or not a child is receiving cancer care. Please note that thr blog also includes much of the information from this page, to ensure foundational knowledge.
WE C Hope Training
We know that infant massage instruction is not easily available to many parents. Even when it is, instructors rarely understand the special needs of children who experience medical interventions for retinoblastoma.
WE C Hope is working to put infant massage skills directly into parent hands, both in Kenya and the USA.
In Kenya, we have trained more than 20 frontline healthcare professionals who care for children with retinoblastoma at Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital in Eldoret. They in turn teach the techniques to parents. Since introducing infant massage, medical personnel have observed increased parent-baby connection, greater parent participation in care, improved overall health, and lower infant distress.
Left: A child life specialist provides infant massage for young baby after a dressing change. Right: A father provides infant massage while engaging in direct, smiling face to face contact.
In 2019, WE C Hope USA hosted a pilot Infant Massage training weekend in California. Our Certified Child Life Specialist and Certified International Instructor Trainer, Morgan Livingstone, led an intensive two-day training course for five individuals touched by retinoblastoma – including parents, a survivor, and a sibling. They were joined for part of the course by a retinoblastoma specialist.
The training combined theory work and practical experience of learning and teaching massage strokes. The certified participants can now offer 1:1 or group infant massage instruction. They can teach parents, grandparents and other primary caregivers how to use massage to lovingly and respectfully support their young children throughout the retinoblastoma experience and beyond.
Morgan poses with her infant massage instructor students and their training dolls during a break between sessions. Los Angeles, 2019.
We hope to develop the instructor training initiative and community implementation for best effect. In time, we would love to develop a national network of infant massage instructors, skilled specifically in supporting parents and children affected by retinoblastoma across the USA.