Nurturing growth, human connection and a healthy family environment is essential to ensuring optimal development in early childhood. During infancy and the toddler years, positive social and emotional nourishment through family interactions are of the highest priority. At this early stage in life, strengthening the bond between child and caregiver communicates stability and creates the best possible environment for physical and neural growth.
Infant massage is beneficial for both the caregiver and child. Physical benefits for the child include increasing nutrient flow to bones and muscles, granting relief from digestive stress, reducing respiratory problems, and promoting stimulation of the Vagus nerve. This cranial nerve is the fundamental regulator of all physiological functions relating to healthy growth and healing in the body, from infancy through adulthood. Gentle and repeated stimulus of the body through infant massage help the baby’s brain learn to sort and process information effectively.
Children of households which experience high levels of stress, instability, drug abuse, job loss, and economic crisis internalize these situations, dramatically changing neural chemistry and stunting physical growth. Infant massage offers an opportunity for the caregiver to bond and nurture their child in an positive way. Infant massage can counter the effect of negative stress in childhood by providing positive stimulation through eye-to-eye contact, skin-to-skin contact, vocalization, scent recognition and cueing.
I teach infant massage classes in a series of four, one-hour sessions. Each session begins with relaxation techniques and training for caregivers, preparing them to focus on positive interaction with their infant. The parents customize a topic of focus for the session, from neurological development in their child to health ways to cope with stress in the family. We learn part of the full body infant massage sequence and review strokes and techniques from prior sessions. Finally, we finish with information and handouts on the focus topic, with time for questions about material and parenting resources. In the final class, we review the cohesive massage routine and learn massage for specific infant challenges like colic, teething and indigestion.
Research in the field of touch and development is widely accessible. Tiffany Field, Ph. D., Ashley Motagu, Ph. D., and Saul Schanberg, Ph. D., MD, have contributed a vast body of scientific data and information to the field of touch in relationship to bonding and health. I am happy to offer contact information, studies and articles relating to infant massage information and promotion.
I offer infant massage classes on a rolling basis at the Center for Natural Medicine in the ideal Hawthorne room. I provide a quiet, warm and respectful space, organic oils, all educational materials needed for the class.
Please contact the Center for Natural Medicine for information and registration.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Mary Thies BA, LMT, Reiki Master
Certified Infant Massage Teacher
Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist
The Center for Natural Medicine
1330 SE Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214