The Magic of Infant Massage

In honor of our upcoming Infant Massage series at Doulas of Orange County, our wonderful instructor Kathleen Thomas-Sarles is sharing more about the magic this healing and bonding activity provides. Kathie provided a lovely hands-on demo at our New Mama Cafe this week and we weren't surprised to hear that everyone LOVED it! Learn more about Kathie and her expertise in Infant Massage on her website

According to Infant Massage USA, there are many benefits to regular infant massage:

1. Stimulation: Skin sensitivity (touch) is the earliest developed function which is most crucial for all the sensory systems, for muscle development, and overall health.

2. Relaxation: Massage helps balance our autonomic nervous system. Massage helps to relieve tension built up from all the stimulation in our baby’s environment. It can help your baby sleep better: (longer and deeper sleep) and helps with self-regulation and self-soothing.

3. Relief of Physical Discomfort: such as gas and colic, constipation, muscular tension or stiffness and sensitivity to touch or disorganization of the nervous system.

 4. Interaction: Touch is one of the most critical elements to the bonding process.  Learn your baby’s cues and build trust.

Babies are touchable, squeezable, kissable and overall intoxicating! Our babies have the power to make us touch, hold, and care for them!  That touch-communication begins at birth or even before, (pregnant moms are always rubbing their bellies), and continues as the baby grows and develops. The question is often asked, “Why should parents learn infant massage when they touch their babies often throughout the day anyway?”  

Infant massage USA uses a systematic method of touch that incorporates two types of strokes: Indian and Swedish, and combines that with a heightened awareness of the cues our babies give us. Observation and “being present” with our baby is the cornerstone of this process.   Massage begins with a question directed to our baby,” Would you like a massage?”, and continues with non-verbal communication that builds trust between the two participants. We never massage a crying baby, we do however, respond to that cry with another method of touch and love.  

There are many benefits to infant massage, but the one that stands out as crucial is the deep bonding that occurs through this one-on-one time. Finding the time in your day when you and your baby are ready for this interaction and setting aside all other concerns, allows you and your baby to get to know each other more completely. When touch is offered lovingly and respectfully it is most often accepted. As parents we gradually learn when our baby is not ready for this touch and note the cues. This skill of reading cues is beneficial throughout our child’s life, as children do not always use their words to tell us what they want.

“Infants communicate through their bodies. When you engage an infant in a massage, you begin to listen to the infant: you listen to sounds, you watch movements, you listen with your eyes, your ears and your heart. “Infant massage, or touch communication nurtures the most important relationship the child will ever have: the relationship between the parent and infant”. Elaine Fogel Schnieder, Ph.D

Vimala McClure founder of Infant Massage USA tells us,”Touch is the first sense to form in-utero and the last to leave us in death.  It is the only sense we can’t live without.” Infant massage when incorporated into your daily schedule, has the added benefits of better sleep, better digestion, muscle and brain development and increased self -soothing ability of your baby.  Massage gives parents more confidence due to their successful response to their baby’s needs, and the baby learns to trust that their needs will be met.  Both parent and child benefit from the massage not only in the moment, but for a lifetime of communication. Infant massage creates a space where baby and parent come together to communicate through touch and learn the wonders of each other.

Kathie's 4-week series launches Sunday, September 3rd at at 10:30am in Irvine. These hour and a half sessions are held at our baby-friendly office. Each class will include guided understanding and modeling of strokes, education regarding temperament, relationship, development, behavioral states and touch as a first communication. You will learn how to create a sense of trust, respect and confidence for you and your baby and maximize your bonding time. This class is great for moms, dads, and grandparents! 

Check out Kathie's Intro to Infant Massage session on Sunday, August 27th at 10:30 or join us for  New Mama Cafe on Tuesday, September 5th at 11:30am to learn more. This info session will provide you with everything you need to know to sign up for the 4-week series and includes a hands-on demo! Registration is required. 

Read more about this new series and instructions on how to register on our events page. For questions, please email Kathie directly at