The growth and development of a child begins at birth. Certain skill sets, which include motor, sensory, language and social skills, begin during a child’s first year of life. This is where massage therapists can lend their expertise–and home-study courses can aid in this process.

Infant massage promotes circulation, strengthens immunity, enhances neurological development and stimulates digestion, providing relief of gas and colic.

An Internet search revealed numerous home-study courses available in infant massage that any massage therapist can take.

Some of those infant massage therapy courses include understanding the benefits, contraindications and research supporting touch therapies with infants; the modification of Swedish, deep tissue and other touch modalities for infants; methodology of strokes; altering techniques for such circumstances as colic, constipation and teething; effective movement and massage routines for infants; and learning touch to address infants’ physical and emotional needs.

According to a recent study, researchers found massage therapy led to improved heart-rate variability in preterm male infants. The study, “The effect of massage on heart rate variability in preterm infants,” monitored 37 hospitalized, medically stable preterm infants born 29 to 32 weeks gestation.

Infants in the massage group received 20 minutes of massage therapy twice a day for four weeks, using the Infant Massage USA protocol. However, abdomnal massage was not used in this process.

Researchers found significant differences between the responses of the male and female infants. While the heart-rate variability improved in the male infants, there was no significant difference in females between zero to four weeks.

Make sure to check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for continuing education credits.