A special touch for babies

As adults, we love getting a good massage. But did you know massages can be good for your baby, too?

Each year, more and more parents take classes to learn the technique of infant massage, says Ellen McManus, an infant care specialist and certified infant massage instructor from Wilmette.

“Infant massage helps increase the bonding between parents and their child, and any form of massage contributes to development,” says McManus."It also helps infants enter the world with a sense of gentleness.”

Teresa Scherr, a Glenview mom of four, says she learned about infant massage from her mother and grandmother and used the techique regularly after bath time."Touch is such an important part of parenting,” says Scherr."You want your children to feel nurtured. And, my babies always slept through the night!”

In addition to helping babies sleep, infant massage helps relieve colic, reduce heart rate, keep blood pressure down and encourage growth and circulation, says Maureen Moon, a freelance massage therapist based in Boulder, Colo., and former president of the American Massage Therapy Association.

There really aren’t any cons to infant massage; however, Moon says to check with a doctor before giving your child a massage if he or she has a heart condition, lung problem, kidney condition or another disorder that could make the massage potentially harmful. McManus also warns that parents should be respectful of the baby’s body language and not to give a massage if the baby is crying or tired.

The technique itself? Moon says to limit the massage to about 15 minutes for infants. Proper technique includes gentle strokes toward the heart, massaging the baby’s feet and face, stretching and making clockwise motions around the tummy.

“I teach parents how to massage their baby, and whichever parent isn’t with the child as much during the day should give the massage,” Moon says.

Moon recommends that moms get prenatal and postpartum massages, too, and then continue with infant massage once the baby is born to further aid growth and prevent colic.

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