Providing physical, emotional and mental health benefits, infant massage is a unique yet natural way to increase the bond between a parent and child. The Infant Massage WINC, World Institute for Nurturing Communication, course shares this special art form with instructors, parents, infants and caregivers all over the world--building from each culture’s customs of nurturing touch.
The mission of Infant Massage WINC, d/b/a for IAIM, is to foster a collective renaissance of each people’s ancient tradition of infant massage throughout the World Community, allowing for all parents, caregivers and infants to feel loved, valued, and respected. The course includes strokes adapted from gentle Yoga movements, Swedish and East Indian massage and many other cultural practices.
What is Infant Massage?
Infant massage is a step beyond cuddling and may be a fun way to provide an emotional and physical link between parent and infant. It’s a way to communicate and convey affection and a sense of security. It can provide the infant relief from daily stress or discomfort from constipation, trapped gas or teething. Massaging babies for up to 15 minutes a day can help to increase circulation, promote relaxation, aid the digestive and respiratory systems, and relieve muscle tension. Infant massage is also a wonderful way for fathers, siblings, grandparents and other caregivers to be involved with the new baby in a loving way that they both can enjoy.
The practice involves a combination of relaxing strokes, light kneading, and gentle squeezing. It uses the same strokes that generations of parents all over the world have practiced, yet it becomes a rhythmic dance that is uniquely personal between the parent and baby when experienced at home from day-to-day.
“Nature needs nurturing to reach its maximum intended potential,” states Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief (2005). Dr. Lipton has allowed for portions of his book to be implemented into the IAIM® program. We continue to add current evidence based research that supports the vital need for touch. Infant massage focuses on touch because touch transcends the circumstances of birth, wealthy or indigent parents, well babies or special needs, all babies need nurturing touch and compassionate communication for healthy development. Affectionate tactile stimulation is a basic human need.
A Different Type of Practice
While the focus of infant massage is on touch, the Infant Massage WINC instructor surprisingly isn’t ‘hands-on’ while teaching the babies, parents and caregivers. The instructor uses a doll to demonstrate the touch, encouraging the parents to perform ‘hands-on’ so that attachment-bonding will take place between the parent and infant through smell, sound, and touch.
Professionals such as nurses, massage therapists, occupational and physical therapists, have very physically demanding jobs--having to lift and knead heavy bodies often. Instructing infant massage can give these professionals a physical break from the daily routine of hands-on touch. It is another modality to continue to give service to an established client. The therapist may empower the parents by teaching them ‘hands-on’ nurturing touch through the introduction of infant massage for their newborn or massage techniques for their growing child.
Learning the Art of Infant Massage
The IAIM® offers a two day infant massage course that covers an extensive curriculum that is a special blend of theory, practical and experiential learning. This allows for academic study, practical application and self-discovery. It covers a variety of topics, including the many benefits of infant massage, babies with special needs, and an introduction to babies in the NICU, the massage sequence for infants and adaptations for the growing child. It also introduces teaching and communication skills for the facilitator.
Certified International Instructor Trainers, CIITs™, certify students to become Certified Infant Massage Instructors, CIMI®s, and they teach the parents/caretakers and babies nurturing touch for healthy body, mind and sprit development--increasing family attachment that can last a lifetime.
Our CIIT™s and CIMI®s travel internationally and may receive guidance from the CIIT and International Advisor to the Administrative Board, Jill Vyse, who has traveled globally teaching infant massage since 1991.
A Compassionate Form of Treatment
“We receive calls inquiring about ‘postpartum blues’ and its effects on the Mother, family and relatives,” says Andrea Kelly, Infant Massage WINC, “Daily infant massage may assist to ward off postpartum blues. When the mother touches the baby it increases her prolactin and oxytocin levels, referred to as the ‘cuddle hormones’ thus fostering nurturing feelings towards the baby.”
Getting the father involved in infant massage may lower testosterone and increase prolactin known as the “nesting” hormone, which could make him feel less competitive and more involved with nurturing the baby.
Study upon study has been conducted on the benefits of infant massage for babies born premature. One study, conducted at the Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida by Dr. Tiffany Fields, showed infants born premature who received regular massage gained an average of 47 percent more weight than those in the control group. Furthermore, eight months after being massaged while still in the neonatal ICU, those babies continued to gain more weight and perform better on developmental tests than the control group.
A powerful testimony that came to an instructor, showing the empowerment one parent felt to help their baby through infant massage. Stephanie Lopez and her baby Ben attended a free parent/baby class for the practicum portion of Day 2 and 3 of a local CIMI® class. Benjamin is a twin, who was born premature after a complicated pregnancy. During this time the twins suffered from Twin to Twin Transfusion, resulting in Ben having developmental delays and blindness. A few months after Stephanie attended class she wrote this to her instructor:
“I am a mother of a special needs boy who gets sick quite often and cries a lot. So I was told about an infant massage class by my physical therapist, Cassie Woods, also a CIMI®. I was worried about my son being upset attending the class, as he so often is with new situations, people and places.
The class instructor, Andrea Kelly made my son and I feel very welcome and comfortable. She demonstrated every stroke clearly and was very patient and nurturing. I was quite surprised at how calm my son was during the whole class and how he was letting me massage him. I couldn’t believe it! It was such a wonderful experience. Learning infant massage has helped my son a great deal. He is much calmer in new settings and is less reactive to strangers. We enjoy our massage time immensely. This is our uninterrupted, one-on-one time together and we continue to do it daily.”
Stephanie Lopez has gone on to become a CIMI® so that she can help other parents feel more empowered to actively help their babies develop. It is important that parents know there is more they can do to maximize their children’s potential. Furthermore, Cassie Woods has advanced to become a Certified International Instructor Trainer, CIIT™. Learning nurturing communication through IAIM®/WINC™ classes encourage and inspire personal growth.
Total family health includes physical, emotional, and spiritual growth. “In our daily work we often hear the term dysfunctional family.” says Andrea, “We at IAIM®/WINC™ hope to facilitate healthy and balanced family development and want to hear the term ‘happy, balanced and fully-functional family.’” While nurturing touch is an important step toward family attachment, there are many other facets to healthy family development that we promote.
IAIM® is considered throughout the World Community to be a leader in teaching infant massage. IAIM®/WINC™ is committed to developing classes that encourage the continuous building of a firm and loving foundation within the home. Based on new data and continued research OUR program now includes “compassionate communication” as the next step in the gift of health and love that can last a lifetime.
These new classes go beyond the scope of infant massage. Babies and parents go through a natural process in which the ‘cooing’ transfers to ‘words’. Touch is a baby’s first language and dialogue is the second. Both nurturing touch and compassionate communication are necessary for healthy family development. So while the original IAIM® infant massage class remains at the core of the IAIM® identity, new classes are housed by the IAIM® d/b/a World Institute for Nurturing Communication, WINC™. The name alone allows for the freedom to broaden the organization’s scope. Three new classes pioneer this development.