My name is Angela, and I DON’T massage babies.
Often people will hear me say that I am a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI) or that I teach Baby Massage, and assume I’m the one massaging people’s babies. I imagine pictures of babies laid out having luxurious spa treatments pop into their minds!
However, this is actually a ‘thing’ in some places around the world. Just google ‘baby spa’ and you see they are popping up all over the globe! Babies are floated in precisely heated and carefully filtered pools, then massaged by the trained spa staff, who ‘will do everything for you’, they’ll even trim your baby’s nails!
But hang on, Baby Massage isn’t a fad.
It’s not even a therapy!
It is an ancient art practiced for centuries by many cultures around the world. It was brought to the UK by IAIM founder, and author of the book ‘Infant Massage – A Handbook for Loving Parents’, Vimala McClure in the late 1990’s, and before that in 1986, the USA. It was during her work in an orphanage in India in the 1970’s that Vimala witnessed babies being massaged and had the vision that all babies in the world should experience the benefits of nurturing touch.
The IAIM approach to Baby Massage highlights the many benefits for both parent and baby, bonding being just one.
This is why I don’t massage babies, their parents, or other significant primary carers do.
The IAIM also encourages respect for the baby, listening to their subtle cues and responding to their needs. For example, we don’t massage crying babies as this crying tells us quite obviously that they have a need beyond massage right now.
I wonder if, at £60 per hour session in these spa’s, those needs are taken into consideration? It may look attractive to many parents, the serene image of a calm baby, the cuteness of them bobbing about in a pool where mum can sit back and relax with a smoothie without having to get into the pool herself. It seems to me that this ‘pampering experience’ is a product of adult focused marketing and I worry whether babies’ needs are actually being met…
Big in places like Russia, Lithuania, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Indonesia, where the Spa business there alone is worth $130m (£105m), is the long-established tradition of Baby Massage being lost as it is ‘taken to the next level, lifestyle wise’?
As cute as the baby looks bobbing about the pool, experts have raised concerns about the consistent and prolonged use of such neck floats on the development of babies spines:
So if you are thinking about a baby massage class for you and your little one, know that if you choose an IAIM class, you will be experiencing a course of world class standard taught by tens of thousands of people from around the world, all sharing the sentiments as expressed by Vimala McClure in her vision:
'I believe that by fostering and encouraging Infant Massage and other cultural traditions which enhance the parent-baby bond and by helping to create more family centered value in our culture, we will begin to see whole generations expressing more compassion toward and responsibility for their fellow human beings.
I believe in supporting parents in their love for their infants. I believe that babies are aware human beings who deserve respect, tenderness, and warmth, and above all, a listening heart. When we listen to our infants with our hearts, we discover whatever it is we want to know.
I believe that every parent, regardless of personal philosophy, and every infant, regardless of birth history or disposition, should have the opportunity to experience the lifelong benefits that come from early bonds that are loving, healthy and secure.'
So I am not a therapist.
I am an instructor.
I teach YOU how to massage YOUR baby so that you can both reap the benefits that nurturing, loving touch brings. Just the way it should be.