Infant massages: Known to have health benefits, now help mental development

Updated: Sep. 12, 2017 at 7:48 AM EDT
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LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - The Achievement Centers for Children is offering free infant massage classes to people living in Cuyahoga County.

Experts have said infant massage can help with colic and to help babies sleep better. It may also help a child's immunity. Experts are also now saying that infant message could stimulate your child's physical and mental development.

Kristine Snell is a licensed infant massage therapist with the Achievement Centers for Children.

"Infant massage is actually a method of communicating with your baby through touch - getting to know what they like and what comforts them," said Snell.

Snell has seen how infant massage can help enhance growth in babies and help parents feel even closer to their new child. It's different than just cuddling or caressing your baby.

"It's done with intention of taking a specific time to spend with your baby - no distractions - and getting to know them by asking for their permission for touch, and teaching the parents some strategies on how to give comfort to their babies through touch for their tummy, for sleep, for teething," added Snell.

How do you ask your baby permission to massage them?

"We ask permission because an infant can tell us through their body language if they want a massage. If they are looking away, coughing, sneezing, we really want to do some containment to get them to relax and be ready for massage," said Snell.

As a new Cleveland area mom, Danielle Sylvester was looking for something to enhance her bond with her now seven-month-old son Kobi.

"I found out about this infant massage class from a group that I am a part of for postpartum depression - was just looking for something extra to do to connect with my son Kobi," said Sylvester.

For five weeks, Sylvester learned ways to soothe Kobi through the many milestones that babies go through.

"While he was in the class you know, he was teething, he learned to roll. I mean there was a lot that happened while we were in the class," said Sylvester.

According to experts, the benefits of touch have long-term lasting developmental effects. Sylvester says she'll keep practicing the techniques that she learned as long as Kobi will tolerate it.

"It's definitely helped our evening routine, and my husband knows how to do some of the techniques. It's been nice for our whole family," said Sylvester.

Before starting infant massage, parents may want to consult their doctor.

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