Parents can learn to massage their infants
Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2000
In just a matter of minutes, parents of newborn babies can improve their child’s digestion, circulation, immune system, not to mention form a stronger bond with the infant.
Thursday, November 30, 2000
In just a matter of minutes, parents of newborn babies can improve their child’s digestion, circulation, immune system, not to mention form a stronger bond with the infant. All of that can be accomplished by simple massage techniques.
Email newsletter signup
As the medical community grows more and more accepting of massage therapy, its practical uses also are gaining more acceptance.
"Baby massage has been around for years," explained Karla Caruso, a licensed massage therapist at Austin Medical Center, who also is teaching a class for parents of infants. "The Native Americans used to do this."
Caruso had taught a class in Albert Lea and recently initiated a similar effort in Austin through Austin Medical Center.
The free class offered Dec. 14 will teach parents the proper techniques to massage their infants. Parents also will learn of the many benefits baby massage has to offer.
The stimulation of the skin provides both psychological and physical development benefits for the child.
"It strengthens the bond between the parent and the child," Caruso said. "Plus it’s good for colicky or cranky babies because it aids in digestion. That’s one thing that a lot of parents are interested in."
Gently massaging the stomach of the child should help the baby digest better, she said. That can help babies gain weight easier and grow at a faster pace.
Massage also has a calming effect that leads to a more deeper, more restful sleep, Caruso said.
The class, offered for parents of infants up to 10 months old, is free. The age restriction is in place because infants older than 10 months can get "a little squirrelly," Caruso said.
Getting an infant accustomed to massage at an early age can help the child to be more comfortable with the techniques later in life as well.
"It starts with babies and it can go on until they’re older. Parents can play games with their children, like tracing a letter on the child’s back and having him guess what letter it is. Or they can play other games like pretending they’re making a pizza," Caruso said. Even older children can gain benefits, such as relaxation, from massage.
Caruso encourages both mothers and fathers to attend the class to learn the massage techniques.
And while Caruso demonstrates on a baby doll, the class is BYOB – bring your own baby – for the parents; it helps parents to learn the massage techniques and how the child will react.
"We start out talking about the surroundings, adjusting the lighting and that sort of thing," Caruso said. "We also talk about oils – the more natural the better. And oils are better than lotions because it doesn’t soak into the skin."
Parents start at the baby’s feet and legs. Then it’s on to the tummy and chest, face and head. The child is then flipped over so the parent can massage the infant’s back.
"It really doesn’t take that long because there’s not a lot there," Caruso said.
While massage is perfect for healthy babies, it also can provide benefits for special needs children.
"A recent study showed how touch can help premature babies. They gained weight faster," Caruso said. However, parents should check with their physician before massaging a baby born prematurely.
They should wait until the baby is at least 32 weeks gestation and medically stable, which often means the baby is in an open crib and taking feedings, according to literature Caruso distributes at her classes.
Class size is limited, and about four sessions will be offered a year. Call 434-1409 to register for the Dec. 14 class.