StorkNet interview with
Diana Moore
Founder and leading teacher of the Loving Touch Foundation in Oregon

Baby Massage offers parents and caretakers a way to calm restless babies, stop their crying, and help them sleep by using comforting and comfortable touching techniques. Through step-by-step pictures, this illustrated guide makes it simple for anyone to learn and implement massage that can ease problems such as colic and teething. Massage has been proven to enhance babies' and toddlers' brain development, encouraging brighter and happier children. With this increasingly popular art, you can learn routines that can be easily incorporated into everyday care, bathtime, and bedtime.

A few minutes spent touching your baby's skin will develop your sensitivity to your baby's reactions, help you relax and unwind, and build your confidence in your parenting skills.

Through simple, step-by-step pictures, the book explains how to massage each part of a baby's tiny body, from head to heart, bottom to feet. It shows routines that can easily be incorporated into bathtime, bedtime, and diaper changing. Sections on Indian massage, African massage, and massage for children with special needs, such as cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome, are also included.

Baby massage is simple to learn and do. Apart from a few essentials, there is no wrong way to massage your baby. Massage requires little extra equipment, costs virtually nothing, and is the start of a beautiful relationship.

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From the book:

"Premature Babies in neonatal units are handled frequently as part of the essential medical and nursing care they need. They often find this type of touch disturbing and distressing. Stroking or massaging them acts as a pleasant contrast, and provides them with comfort and love. Research has shown that when premature babies receive routine care in the hospital, their pulse rates increase and their oxygen levels decrease, indicating distress. When they are massaged, however, the opposite occurs: their pulse rates come down and their oxygen levels rise, suggesting that they find massage calming and soothing."

"Perhaps the most important benefit of massaging your premature baby is that it helps you and your child to bond, which is especially important if he has spent the first days of his life in an incubator. It also gives you the knowledge that you are doing something positive for your baby. Massage can also: improve weight gain, enhance growth and development, encourage greater responsiveness, improve digestion and metabolism, and reduce pain. Massage stimulates the production of endorphins, the body's natural pain killers."

Massage for Different Age Groups As your child develops, so do his needs, and whether he is a premature baby or a boisterous toddler, massage increases your sensitivity to him, enabling you to recognize his requirements and decide how best to alter your approaches in response. Adapting your massage techniques, routines, and the pressure of your strokes to suit your child's changing physical and emotional needs encourages your child in each stage of development and gives him the sense that you are moving with him through his experience of life.

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Baby Massage also offers information and suggestions for fractious crying ~ "Babies cry on average for two hours in every 24. Often, the cause of distress is obvious and easily remedied, but at other times it can be unclear. Whatever the reason, if your baby cries, pick him up and cuddle him. The results of research studies indicate that the quicker a parent responds to a crying baby, the sooner the child stops crying. In some cases, nothing soothes screaming babies, which can be most frustrating for parents. Massage may calm your crying baby, but even if it does not, you could find that, between bouts of crying, both you and your baby enjoy massage and are relaxed by it."

"Research Evidence: Some parents may feel it is wrong to respond to a baby each time he cries, as this might "spoil" him and give him unrealistic expectations of life. Recent research suggests that this point of view is counterproductive. The results of one study state that crying babies are soothed when lifted onto a caregiver's shoulder, and that they also become visually alert, showing that this attention is nurturing. Investigation into child psychology has established that by responding to a baby's needs, parents actually help build his confidence (see pages 72 - 73 in book). Nature also supports these theories: the same study reports that mothers are naturally compelled to attend to their crying babies and to stay close until they are calm. The study found that mothers can distinguish a "pain" cry from a less serious one. And it is also true that most adults want to "do something" about a crying baby." Baby Massage has a section devoted to massage for crying babies.

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The following reply is to the many questions asked regarding what types of oils or lotions to use for massage:

Diana: Infant massage is best performed with oil. Natural oils are preferred over mineral-based oils. In a study done by Touch Research Institute, Oil Versus No Oil Massage, Infants showed fewer stress behaviors (e.g. Grimacing and clenched fists) and lower cortisol levels (stress hormones) following massage with oil versus massage without oil.

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Content covered in Baby Massage also includes: Why Massage? * Preparing to Massage * Getting Started * Front of the Baby * Back of the Baby * Head and Face * Stretches * Everyday Care * Children with Special Needs * Toddlers * Colic and Gas * Constipation * Teething * Dry Skin * A List of Resources and Useful Addresses
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About the Authors: Consulting child psychologist Dr. Alan Heath and specialist nurse health visitor Nicki Bainbridge developed the methods demonstrated in this book at their successful sleep and crying clinics in inner city London. The book features a foreword by Diana Moore, the founder and leading teacher of the Loving Touch Foundation in Oregon, where she trains people to teach infant massage.

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A Note to Diana Moore: Dear Diana, thank you for participating in this interview. We received a letter from one of our visitors who told us, "Diana has volunteered for the last several years to lead a group of people to care for the children in the Romanian orphanages." How wonderful! Please, would you tell us more about this?

Diana's Reply: That was a very thoughtful email you received. I do humanitarian work (Infant Massage Ministries) through my organization out under the umbrella of Northwest Medical Teams International. I started a program, and have been leading teams of therapists into the heart of the Romanian orphanages for the last 6 years. I just completed my sixth trip and returned home June 13. I trained 54 staff members in Alba Uluia, Romania that care for 105 children, birth to three years. My team consisted of occupational therapists, a pediatric physician, a psychotherapist and massage/infant massage therapists, a total of ten members. We do a lot of massage on the babies!!! We assessed all of the children for social/emotional, cognitive, motor/developmental and medical and whatever else we could find. We bring over (literally box loads) of supplies to help the babies. Medicine, vitamins, interactive toys, crib mirrors, therapy equipment - if you get my drift. This is completely funded by ourselves and any other generous contributors. We essentially overhaul the facility and bring it to life. We educate the staff about the importance of development, interaction skills, and infant massage techniques. It is a very humbling experience. There is such a need in this world and such an abundance to share. So...anyway that is one part of what I do. You can look up my web site to read more about our program. Good luck with your project. Your site is very, very nice. Diana Moore

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A very special "thank you" to Diana Moore for sharing this with us and for being our StorkNet guest. Please take a moment to visit Loving Touch.

 

Click here to order Baby Massage

StorkNet is very pleased to bring you our guest interview with Diana Moore, founder and leading teacher of the Loving Touch Foundation in Oregon. She also wrote the forward to Baby Massage: The Calming Power of Touch. Diana answered member questions concerning baby massage; those questions and answers have been posted here. Our thanks to Diana Moore for sharing her time and expertise with StorkNet!



Mingyen: I am worried that I might hurt my baby if I push too hard. How much force is enough for an infant?

Diana: Babies love some pressure. Not too hard and not too light. Too light may be ticklish. The best advice is to watch how your baby responds to the pressure. Parents naturally respond to newborns with a lighter touch than to a baby that is six months of age. Loving touch with sensitivity and observation.

Gena: Is massage helpful with a colicky baby?

Diana: Absolutely, research has shown that colic and constipation is greatly reduced by massage. Babies that appear to be experiencing colic can benefit by having their tummies and legs rubbed. Following the direction of the intestinal tract, rub in a circular clockwise direction to encourage elimination and relaxation for your infant. Some stretches will help by pressing the knees into the tummy.

Dawn: What oils would you recommend to use to massage my baby? When I start to massage my baby, is there a certain body part I should start with (head, feet, stomach)? What position should my baby be laying, on his/her back or stomach?

Diana: There is no hard set rule about which oils to use, however, keep in mind that babies do put their hands and fingers into their mouths, so you will want to use a natural oil such as almond, apricot or sesame seed oil. Some people even like to use a light olive oil. It's not recommended to add fragrances at an early age. A part of the bonding/attachment process requires a baby to smell their parents' natural scent and visa versa. I recommend starting the massage with the baby laying on their back, face up. Look into their eyes and make a connection first. This should give you a clear signal that your baby is ready. You can proceed from there. If their leg reaches out to you first, then start there. Better to work one area completely and move to another area one at a time. Massage as long as the experience is positive.

Laurel: I stroke my belly almost constantly (without intending to, usually). I wonder if there's any benefit to this "pre-natal" caressing or if it's just a comfort for me?

Diana: Fetuses are aware of your presence through the skin. Loving touch and caressing has a direct influence on your nerves through the skin. Talk to your unborn infant through the skin. Begin the bonding while still in the womb. The act of massaging your belly can bring awareness to the fetus of your external presence. Refer to the book Mother Massage, by Elaine Stillerman for more information about massage during pregnancy. Keep in mind that as you massage your belly, you will actively promote relaxation and that will help baby also.

Melanie: My question is regarding my three-year-old son, Ryan. Ryan has numerous food and environmental allergies and suffers from asthma, hay fever, eczema and chronic ear infections (tubes x3). Often he is very cranky and has trouble sleeping due to these problems, especially the continuous itching and scratching from the eczema. Can massage help him to relax and possibly "heal" some of these problems? I am desperate for my son to get some relief and to be a "normal" little boy. Thank you for any suggestions and insights. Sincerely, Melanie

Diana: Touch Research Institute conducted studies with children who experienced skin disorders and had asthma. They discovered that children did benefit. One particular study showed that the positive effects of parents massaging their asthmatic children included increased peak airflow, improved pulmonary functions, less anxiety and lower levels of stress hormones. In the study about dermatitis, children's affect and activity levels improved, as did all measures of skin conditions. The parents' anxiety levels also decreased. Massaging a child can bring the potential of improved health for the child's system. Consider massage as a loving comforting technique, a time to connect with your child, a time to relax. With an older child use visualizations in story time to keep your child's interest.

Tricia: What is the best time of day to give baby a massage? Should it only be done once per day?

Diana: Massage can be given more than one time a day. The best time is when your infant is in the "quiet alert state." Learn to recognize the time of day when your baby is awake and ready for interaction. This is called conscious attention in the newborn. Avoid times when your baby is hungry, tired or crying. Most babies have very clear cues of readiness. When you come to understand what the "quiet alert state" is, it will be best to have a consistent schedule. Massage as long as your baby is comfortable. Do not overtire your infant. Massage is quiet loving interaction between two people. It will promote bonding and attachment.

Tricia: Isn't just rubbing baby softly as good as a "technically correct" massage?

Diana: Certainly any touch is better than no touch. However, infant massage is a specific method that has scientific results. Just touching is all-important. However, when you perform definite movements, such as "Swedish Milking," (which is a long stroke pushing the blood towards the heart), you are actually milking the muscle and improving the circulation. Once you have a guideline for various strokes as seen in "Baby Massage: The Soothing Effects of Touch" you will begin to see the difference in your baby from an overall massage. The Touch Research Institute demonstrated in their research that preemies had a 47% weight gain after having been massaged, they were more responsive, and still showed advantages eight months later. Besides all of that, infant massage is relaxing to the parent as well.

Kelly: I currently massage my 4 1/2 month old with olive oil (have been since birth). He enjoys it after his evening bath. Are there any essential oils that I could use with the olive oil? Thanks

Diana: While essential oils are wonderful and smell delicious, we recommend massaging babies without using any scents initially. A part of the bonding/attachment process clearly reinforces the newborn's ability for smell and the need to smell their parents and visa versa - the parent need to smell their newborn. However, I personally believe that after six months of age when the bonding is well established, that the introduction of various essential oils may be stimulating to the baby's olfactory system. Remember what smells good to you, may for a baby, be several times stronger. Refer to "Aromatherapy for Mothers and Babies" by England to insure proper amounts.

Jane: I have heard that aromatherapy oils shouldn't be used on newborn babies. My son is now five months old, which oils are now safe to incorporate into the massage? Thanks.

Diana: Please refer to the above reply. In addition one should be aware of how the baby is responding to the scents. Look at their noses, do they squiggle up when a new scent is introduced. Do they sleep or are they more stimulated? Your baby will be the best guide.

Kim: Any suggestions on massaging more than one baby at once, i.e. twins? Thanks!

Diana: I should say so! Two babies, two massagers! Or, just wait while one is sleeping or contentedly quiet and massage one at a time. Honestly, there is really no "rule of thumb" on this matter. Spread your blanket down before you and lay both babies side by side. Massage one at a time. Keep smiling as you go and hope for the best results. Try not to jump back and forth between babies. If you plan on doing the legs at one sitting, then do one baby first and then go to the other baby. Systematically introduce the massage to each baby from head to toe. Parents of twins need plenty of support!

Katie: Is it necessary to do specific massage moves, or is any type of massage beneficial to a baby?

Diana: Any type of massage is better than no massage. Use your intuition. However, massage is scientific, and therefore, each massage stroke has a different effect on the skin. For instance, wringing motions are more stimulating and they bring blood to the surface of the skin. Milking or effleurage movements enhance circulation and have a more calming relaxing effect. Following a prescribed method of massage will be very satisfying to both you and your baby. Over time, your infant will begin to understand that "infant massage" is not just casual touch, but a very special time together!

Nalina: What exactly is Indian massage and how does it differ from North American teachings? Also, is it safe to use normal baby oil to massage my little 5 month old?

Diana: Indian Massage, as used in India has been practiced for centuries with babies. It uses a combination of upward and downward motions, called milking. As to the American teachings of massage, the classical massage is called Swedish Massage and was developed by Metzger of Holland and Ling of Sweden. This is the foundation of massage techniques taught in America. The best oils to use are made of natural ingredients such as almond, apricot, sesame oil versus a mineral base. Mineral based oils may be good at waterproofing and may clog the pores.

Truchar: How long and often should I be doing an organized massage to be effective and beneficial?

Diana: Generally it is recommended to begin baby massage immediately after birth. When an infant is still in arms, and not going anywhere, it is very easy to give an overall massage. When an infant reaches the age of six months or more and their mobility increases, you may be lucky to massage a foot!. To be effective and have long lasting benefits, parents should begin at birth and continue every day for at least six months. When the baby is more active, (and now very aware of what massage is) you may decrease the frequency of massages around your child's activity levels. A massage at naptime may be very calming. Keep in mind, that if you are consistent with massage, your toddler will come back to you and say, "mommy can I have a massage?"

Sara: Can you massage a baby's head? Is there a certain technique to avoid damaging the soft spots?

Diana: Yes, you can massage your baby's head. Babies love their scalps to be rubbed. Do be careful around the soft spots - like on the top of the head, at the temples and at the occipital areas. Watch your baby's response to the massage and use gentle fingertip pressure in a circular motion. Oil is not necessary on the head. Position your baby's head in a face-to-face position and watch your baby smile.

Lisa: What if it seems as though my 3 month old doesn't like to be rubbed? I've tried the massage techniques in your book, but it doesn't seem she enjoys it; rather, it seems to agitate her.

Diana: Some babies can show signs of agitation or oversensitivity to touch. Keep in mind several factors, is this the baby's "quiet alert state," or are they getting ready for bed time? Be mindful of the temperature of the area you are massaging in. If your baby's skin seems to be blotchy in color, they may be cold. Start massaging areas that your baby is comfortable with. Only undress the area you plan on massaging. Starting at the stomach, chest or face may not be the best area. Begin on one of the extremities or back first. Do not overtire your baby. Little bits and pieces of massage go a long way. Keep the level of noise down. Pressure, speed of stroke and how many strokes can make a difference. Some babies are just overstimulated by too much of anything. Refer to the "Fussy Baby" book by Dr. Sears.

CadyDid: I would like to be able to massage my 3-month old daughter before she goes to bed. How long do you recommend this sort of massage? Should I continue it until she goes to sleep, or will that encourage her to become dependent on a bedtime massage to sleep?

Diana: Infant massage is a wonderful gift of love you can give your baby. Not all babies like massage before bedtime. It can actually be stimulating for some. You may consider massage during the day when your baby is in the "quiet alert state." At three months of age, you will want to spend special time bonding with her and baby massage is excellent for that. When your baby is older and more mobile, the massage may moved to more of a bedtime ritual. Remember you can never spoil a baby. Children need your reassurance and protectiveness to be independent, not dependent. Your child will let you know when they want more or less.

Laura: How soon after birth can massage be started? Newborn babies like so much to be swaddled. Does this conflict with baby massage?

Diana: Infant massage can be started immediately after birth. Yes, swaddling is very nurturing and gives the baby a sense of the womb, but your hands will also be very reassuring to your baby. Massaging your baby is like the embrace of the womb on the outside. Love your baby through nurturing touch. I definitely recommend some sort of baby carrier in addition to the massage.

Theresa: My baby enjoyed getting a massage up until about 2 months ago. He is 9 months old now, and he never wants to sit still for a massage. He'd rather be crawling around. Any suggestions on how to get him to stay still for a massage? Or should I just give it up for a few months? Thanks!!

Diana: Give up for a while, but not entirely. Do a foot, or a hand, a tickle on the belly, a stroke on the back at bedtime. Be creative, use your imagination. Sing a song, tell a story. Your toddler will let you know when they are ready for massage again. Massage is a wonderful tool for promoting communication, even in the older child. When your child is in their teens, they will recall with fond memories the loving touch they received from you!

Cynthia: After reading the description of your book, I am really excited. We have twins on the way and this sounds wonderful. My biggest question - I have a 6 year old daughter with very severe cerebral palsy. Would the same techniques work with her? She has periods of screaming where nothing will help calm her. Is it possible that doing massage regularly will help to minimize these screaming fits? Wow - I have so many more questions relating to how this could benefit her - any info would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!

Diana: The Cerebral Palsy Foundation has been using baby massage for years. The same techniques will work for your daughter. Keep in mind that you will have to position yourself and her a little differently. Pay attention to your daughter's responses; she may scream or cry but feel better afterwards. I would suggest doing massage with her first, before the twins arrive. That way, she will feel special and have a better understanding of the massage when it is done with the twins. It will help her understand touch as well. Scientific evidence supports the positive benefits of massage, especially in the area of decreased anxiety and stress reduction. Massaging your daughter may improve her self-esteem, body image and social functioning.

Daniela: What would you rather suggest to accompany newborn or baby massage with other stimuli (music, parfums, and so on) or rather find a quiet, silent, maybe dim place so that baby focuses on touch?

Diana: Babies' senses are very acute at birth. Babies can become overstimulated easily. The best advice is to watch your infant's cues of readiness and overstimulation. You alone are the best source of stimuli, the sound of your voice, the smell of your skin your eyes focusing on your newborn. All of this stimuli will be just the right mix for a perfect massage. When playing music keep to a gentle flow of beautiful lullaby music. One that I recommend is, Music for Dreaming by Cherie Ross of Melbourne, Australia.

Krystina: I have a copy of your book and just want to say how much I love it. The information is very helpful and encouraging. I also want to say that the pictures are beautiful. Those babies look so relaxed!

Diana: Thank you for the feedback ~ studies show that after giving a massage to their newborns, parents become very relaxed too.

Tevin: Should I massage my baby if he is sick with a cold or fever? And, how long (age-wise) can I massage my baby?

Diana: If your baby is sick with a cold or fever make sure you consult a doctor to rule out anything serious. As to the massage, usually children that are sick will let you know what feels good and what feels not so good. They can be irritable and not want any touch. However, a loving, nurturing touch to console a sick child is one of the best ways to promote healing and let them know you care. Massage until any age. Massage becomes a way of life.

Alana: My five year old absolutely loves massage. Will your book be helpful for me too, or is it just for infants?

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Diana: Adapt the baby massage routine for an older child. Positioning, privacy and good feedback will ensure positive results. You will be encouraging positive healthy touch in your five year old, and it will have benefits that will last a lifetime. Don't be surprised if your five year old becomes a good massager, too!

Rachael: I don't know if you want to get into specifics, but I read that there are massages for teething? Can you give an example? My baby is suffering with his teething.

Diana: There are natural teething oils that have numbing effects on the gums. When applied use your fingertips and massage the tender areas in the mouth. Use good hand washing techniques. The teething oil I recommend and parents swear by is called, "All Smiles Teething Oil." You can find it at our site, www.lovingtouch.com.

Krista Rose: At what age should I start infant massage? My baby is 6 weeks old and likes having lotion rubbed on him, but gets very upset when I try oil. My baby suffered a neonatal stroke that left him with slightly less muscle tone on his right side. Are there special massage techniques I should do to stimulate his muscles? He is now 6 weeks old. Thanks!

Diana: Use an unscented oil and refer to the above questions about oils. As to specific massage techniques, try all of them. Use more friction movements and circulatory movements to stimulate the nerves on the low tone area. Watch your baby's cues of attention and do not overtire him. Use of a therapy ball may be helpful. Check with a pediatric physical or occupational therapist for more specific muscle exercises that will tone that part of his body.

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