What Does an Infant Massage Therapist Do

Baby Massage (Registrar) - Monday, November 26, 2018
What does an infant massage therapist do?

Baby massage therapists are referred to as Certified Infant Massage Instructors (CIMI) or Paediatric Massage Consultants (PMC). Because of best practice guidelines and a desire to achieve the best outcomes for their clients, certified instructors and consultants teach parents how to massage as opposed to providing therapy directly to infants and children themselves. 
Who do 'infant massage therapists' work for?
While some Infant Massage Instructors and Paediatric Massage Consultants work in clinics, hospitals and other health and allied health service environments, most instructors and consultants work for themselves, running their own small business.

What do they do?
Massage techniques are taught to parents in baby massage classes or via one-on-one private appointments. Classes and appointments are held at a number of different venues such as the instructor's home or clinic, the parent's home, community centres, hospitals, local libraries and parent support centres. Instructors set their own class and appointment times and do their best to arrange days and times that are suitable for the families they are working with. In addition to demonstrating massage techniques, instructors and consultants help parents by providing information and advice on when to massage, how long to massage for, baby body language (baby cues) during massage, what oil to use and much more.

Why do parents seek to work with an 'infant massage therapist'? There are a number of reasons parents look to work with a qualified instructor or consultant. Parents often want to learn techniques that will help with sleep and common digestive issues such as wind, colic, constipation and reflux. As the benefits of massage become more widely known and accepted however, a growing number of parents simply want to learn some step-by-step massage techniques from a professional rather than trusting online videos or just trying to 'guess their way' through a massage routine. When parents first arrive at a baby massage class, they often refer to having felt a natural urge to massage but explain they feel a little bit lost, just spreading around some oil or cream on the baby following bath time without really knowing what they're doing. They enjoy learning the various massage techniques they can try and seeing how their baby responds.
How do parents find a qualified 'infant massage therapist'?
Parents are able to receive a free referral to a Certified Infant Massage Instructor or Paediatric Massage Consultant in their local area from the Infant Massage Information Service.

Click here for information on how you can become an 'infant massage therapist'


How Can I Treat My Baby's Eczema Naturally

Baby Massage (Registrar) - Thursday, November 22, 2018
How Can I Treat My Baby's Eczema Naturally?

The type of oil used for baby massage is extremely important. New research shows olive oil and sunflower oil damage the natural skin barrier, exacerbating and possibly instigating eczema. 

The barrier provides a crucial protective function for the skin, preventing loss of moisture and the entrance of harmful microorganisms or irritants.

The recent research on olive and sunflower oil has created an unfounded perception that ALL natural oils damage the skin barrier but this is like 'throwing the baby out with the bath water'.

Far from damaging the natural skin barrier, organic, cold pressed sesame oil (NOT the cooking sesame oil found in the supermarket) actually strengthens the skin barrier. Sesame seeds contain significant amounts of lignans, a type of micronutrient packed with antioxidants and cold pressed sesame oil is naturally comprised of 40% linoleic acid. Studies have shown linoleic acid is extremely important when it comes to normal skin barrier function and people with eczema show reduced levels of linoleic acid in their skin. Without sufficient amounts of linoleic acid, you can expect to experience serious essential fatty acid deficiency, which leads to increased water loss, skin dryness, and inflammation. Also of interest is the fact that the body doesn’t construct linoleic acid itself, we have to get it from outside sources.

Why some people develop have eczema is not well understood. We know that with eczema the skin barrier does not work as well, so the goal is to strengthen this while also reducing stress levels and strengthening the immune system. Daily massage for babies with eczema helps to measurably reduce cortisol levels (‘stress hormone’) as well as strengthening the immune system by improving the function of the body’s ‘natural killer cells’ (a type of white blood cell that plays a major role in the rejection of both tumours and virally infected cells).

Because children with eczema have sensitive skin and can often have allergies to various products, conducting a patch test prior to use of any product is extremely important.

Moisturising the skin regularly is best carried out via a short massage twice a day.  The massage strokes themselves assist with eczema by increasing circulation and lymph flow for the affected areas.

Using a product used that actually nourishes and repairs the damaged skin and helps to strengthen the skin barrier is vital to achieving good results and seeing eczema improve.


How Do I Become a Baby Massage Therapist

Baby Massage (Registrar) - Tuesday, November 20, 2018
How do I become a baby massage therapist?

There's a good reason why so many people like the idea of becoming a Baby Massage Therapist. Research has shown that when a person massages a baby there is a release of endorphins, the bodies 'feel-good' hormone. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body and essentially when you think of how wonderful it would be to become a Baby Massage Therapist, this is the feeling that is coming to mind.

When you train in baby massage, you learn to acknowledge the fact that while it would be awesome (for you) to spend each day massaging babies, this isn't considered best practice because providing massage to a baby yourself doesn't achieve the best outcomes for your clients.

People trained in baby massage are trained to work with parents and teach them how to provide massage. There are number of reasons for this:

1. Parents have the most success with infants during massage as babies are more comfortable and relaxed when being handled by their parent. 2. Babies will not keep to appointment times and cannot be forced to receive massage at an inappropriate time (for example, when they want to feed, sleep or just do not want massage). 3. Massage cannot last for a predetermined or set amount of time. The length of each massage has to be based on the babies response cues (some massages can be extremely short). 4. For massage to be most effective, parents need to massage at opportune moments when they recognise the baby is in what is referred to as a 'quiet alert state' (this usually occurs after a nap or for newborn infants may be after a feed following their nap). 5. Liability is vastly different when providing massage directly as opposed to allowing parents to massage their own child. 6. One of the most important benefits of massage for infants is the impact it has on bonding and attachment. Children need to bond with their parents as opposed to a therapist. 7. Children are able to begin learning lessons about appropriate touch from infancy and as massage is an intimate form of touch (i.e. skin to skin and stroking on the skin) it is best this comes from someone the child is familiar and comfortable with. 8. There are benefits experienced by the parents when massaging, including increased confidence, reduction in stress hormone levels, increased attachment and bond with the baby, reduction in symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety. 9. Parents need to know how to assist when needed. For example, in the instance where a baby has wind pain in the middle of the night and parents are unable to call and have a therapist come over and help. 10. Ideally, infants receive a small amount of massage once or twice a day, every day as opposed to periodically (as would be done in massage appointments).

Learning about and appreciating why it is important for parents to learn massage techniques (as opposed to providing massage directly as a therapist) is one of the most interesting aspects of training in baby massage. Coincidentally, it is also a topic that Infant Massage Instructors and Paediatric Massage Consultants tend to become more passionate about the longer they are in the industry.

Ultimately, achieving the best outcomes for both parent and child is the most important thing.

Research has shown there are many ways that infants and their families can benefit from baby massage. If this is work you would like to be involved in, you need to complete training as a Certified Infant Massage Instructor or Paediatric Massage Consultant.

Training can be completed through the Infant Massage Information Service via a 3-day intensive course (held in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Gold Coast and Brisbane) or training is available for students internationally via correspondence.

Both Infant Massage Instructors and Paediatric Massage Consultants are able to work with parents, teaching massage techniques for infants and older children. Consultants are also able to provide short presentations to professional groups, educating them on the benefits of massage and helping to address common myths and outdated information about baby massage.

Students complete either 3 or 4 competency tasks depending on the qualification they wish to obtain (3 for instructors and 4 for consultants). Tasks involve successfully demonstrating all massage techniques on a demonstration doll, completing a practice teaching session with a volunteer parent and infant, completion of a multiple choice theory exam and for consultant students, preparation of a 1-hour talk directed towards a relevant professional group (for example, nursing staff, early childhood educators, social workers, natural therapists, occupational therapists etc).

Related information:

What does an infant massage therapist do?

How much does an infant massage therapist make?

Course dates, locations & correspondence study

Request a course brochure / Ask a question

Units of study


IVF and baby massage

Baby Massage (Admin) - Tuesday, November 06, 2018

We received an interesting question recently...

Does baby massage provide distinctive benefits for families who have conceived through IVF?

Considering infertility affects 1 in 5 couples and the number of people undergoing IVF treatment is on the rise, we thought this intriguing question was well worth exploring.

In one respect, couples who have conceived through IVF can experience the same challenges faced by any parents. There are sleepless nights, feelings of stress and anxiety, coping with unsolicited parenting advice and the challenge of facing a confusing mix of fear and joy while settling into the new role of being a parent. In an interview with Today's Parent, mother Amy Warren spoke about the difference between her experiences after having conceived her first child naturally and her second through IVF:

Amy describes the sensation of 'a dark cloud' lingering over her after her second child was born, saying, "Feelings of stress, worry and disappointment with my body didn't just evaporate when I found out I was finally expecting or when my long-awaited baby arrived."

In addition to the emotional and physical strain couples have been through, there can also be a significant strain on finances to recover from.

Some parents who have conceived through IVF report feeling (and being treated) as though
they 'shouldn't complain' and they must be happy, considering they now have the baby they've always wanted.

Postnatal depression and anxiety are common for new mothers regardless of the way a baby was conceived. These conditions affect 1 in every 7 women who give birth in Australia each year. A study published by the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health however, notes the risk of postnatal depression may increase to 1 in 4, for women who have received fertility treatments.

Psychologist, Lila Hakim specialises in fertility counselling in Canada. She says parents can be, "surprised when they don't feel as joyous as they thought they would post-birth," noting many of her patients underestimate how stressful and exhausting fertility treatments will be. "They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a few educated and focused health professionals working together to help someone move out of postpartum depression to feel connected with their baby, their partner and themselves," Harkim says. This is where baby massage can play an important role.

Receiving instruction in infant massage techniques from a Certified Infant Massage Instructor or Paediatric Massage Consultant can start during the latter stages of pregnancy with the use of specialised demonstration dolls. The process of learning massage techniques on a demonstration doll can help expecting parents prepare mentally and emotionally for the arrival of their baby and provide soon to be parents with something positive to focus on.

According to Dr. Roth Edney from 'Informed Infertility', some couples spend the duration of a pregnancy thinking a miscarriage is coming, "When couples have gone through reproductive losses, every time they have an ultrasound they're waiting to find out their baby has died. By the time the baby is born, they're still living with anxiety and waiting for the other shoe to drop." She notes that after spending so much time being negative, it's time for parents to look at ways to open up to the concept that they will have good news.

According to Heidi McLoughlin, founder of the
Infant Massage Information Service, the benefits of baby massage may be amplified for parents who have conceived via fertility treatments, 

Research conducted by the Touch Research Institute in Miami found Mothers’ anxiety levels were reduced after massaging their infants . In fact, many parents who learn how to massage report a decrease in anxiety and feel that bonding and attachment has improved. 

Research conducted by leading universities in Turkey found that massage is effective in increasing mother-infant attachment and a study published by the Journal of Perinatal Education noted participating fathers were helped by increasing their feelings of competence, role acceptance, spousal support, attachment and health by decreasing feelings of isolation and depression.

A number of studies show caregivers report feeling more confident and less stressed, while also feeling a closer bond with their baby after learning infant massage. Studies conducted however have not differentiated between parents who have conceived naturally and those who have conceived through IVF.

Massage provides a wide range of benefits that can make coping with a new baby a little easier. This is important for all parents, but perhaps even more so for parents who have been through a challenging and exhausting conception and pregnancy.

Massage increases the baby’s level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter and hormone that enhances emotions and improves mood. Low levels of dopamine can result in feelings of anxiety and sadness. In fact there are a series of hormones that make you feel good, dopamine is only one. Serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins are also known as ‘feel good’ hormones and each of these hormones has been seen to increase (in both the baby and the parents) when a baby receives massage. Various studies have also noted a significant reduction in the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol, in infants and their parents following massage time.

A U.K university review of research involving nearly 600 infants found that babies in massage test-groups cried less and slept better than infants in control groups who were not receiving massage.

While the benefits of massage may be the same for parents and babies regardless of whether conception was natural or through the miracle of advanced science, if parents feel they have been through a an emotionally and physically draining conception and pregnancy, baby massage is certainly well worth trying.

Research Massage helps infants sleep more and be less stressed

Baby Massage (Registrar) - Thursday, November 01, 2018

Research says massage may help infants 
sleep more and be less stressed

 University of Warwick

A team of researchers from Warwick Medical School and the Institute of Education have reviewed nine paediatric massage studies. The studies involved a total of 598 babies under 6 months of age.

Parents were trained by professional instructors in appropriate massage techniques. Following the intervention, a range of significant results were noted. Compared to control groups, the massaged infants cried less, slept better and had lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone).

One study found that massage affected the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates a persons 'body clock', helping infants to have a good sleep/wake cycle and develop good sleeping patterns.

Another study found that massage was able to assist with attachment and bonding for mothers suffering from postnatal depression.

Parents who wish to massage their babies are able to learn at local classes facilitated by either a Certified Infant Massage Instructor or Paediatric Massage Consultant.

Related information:

What does an infant massage therapist do?

How much does an infant massage therapist make?

Course dates, locations & correspondence study

Request a course brochure / Ask a question

Units of study