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March 2017
Aesthetics
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INFANT MASSAGES


Massages for babies create feelings of wellness, protect their health and strengthen the relationship between children and parents. However, this massage is not just a technique, rather it is a way to communicate based on touching and it can be performed right from when the baby is born and be continued for years to come. Furthermore, it is recommended for babies with health problems or disabilities.
Infant massages are common to numerous cultures all over the world. Those that are carried out in Western countries, which became popular thanks to a specialised association, are a combination of ancient massage methods from India and reflexology techniques. The discovery and diffusion of infant massages in the West was the result of the passion and enthusiasm of an American lady called Vimala McClure, and today many countries are part of the International Association of Infant Massage (Iaim - the international headquarters (IAIMI) of which have been located in Sweden since 1994), including Denmark, Sweden, Quebec, USA, Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, New Zealand and Australia.

The history

The lady who perfected and popularised the techniques of infant massages in the West was an American lady from Colorado called Vimala McClure, who learnt about this technique during a period of work in an orphanage in India. In 1976, when she had returned to America and was expecting her first child, McClure decided to study and learn more about this practice, perfecting it once her baby was born. Then she went on to publish her book "Infant Massage: a Handbook for Loving Parents", and, in 1981, thanks to the Californian Audrey Downes, the International Association of Infant Massage Instructors was set up and the practice of infant massages began to spread all over the world.

The massage

An infant massage is the result of a combination of various techniques: the relaxing Indian massage, Swedish massage, reflexology and yoga. It involves simple movements which can be performed by everyone and which evoke the sensations that the baby felt during pregnancy when it was still suspended in the amniotic fluid in the womb. Vimala McClure went on to codify these techniques, however, since each baby is unique, these techniques can be adapted for each individual. The massage is equally as useful, whether it is carried by a parent or specialised personnel, but, of course, if it is done by a parent, one of the benefits is a better relationship with the family, and this is why infant massage associations offer different courses for parents and for people who want to become experts or therapists.

Benefits

There are three main benefits for the baby. First and foremost are the psychological effects, which are the result of the close attachment that is created between the child and parents, the increased exchange of messages of affection and the help it gives the baby to form an image of itself. Then there are the stimulating effects which this massage has since it helps the baby’s breathing, circulation and gastrointestinal functions. Lastly, it has relaxing effects: an infant massage can help the baby to relax and deal with stressful and anxiety inducing situations better.

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