Infant massage therapy can help start a new life in the right direction. Through nurturing touch, a massage therapist can help promote healthy growth and development of children, which can be learned through home study courses you can take in your home or office.

Through touch, infant massage promotes psychological, emotional, developmental and physiological health. It also promotes circulation, strengthens immunity, enhances neurological development and stimulates digestion, providing relief of gas and colic.

An Internet search revealed numerous home study courses 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 circumstances, such as colic, constipation and teething; effective movement and massage routines for infants; and learning touch to address infants’ physical and emotional needs.

Researchers from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami found massage therapy led to weight gain in preterm infants when moderate pressure massage was provided, bone density increased, the use of oils enhanced the average weight gain and the transcutaneous absorption of oil also increased triglycerides.

But despite the benefits of the therapy, preterm infant massage is only practiced in 38 percent of neonatal intensive care units, according to the institute.

According to recent studies, massage therapy reduced an infant’s hospital stay, along with the occurrence of late-onset sepsis in infants with very low birth weight. The study, “Massage therapy reduces hospital stay and occurrence of sepsis in very preterm neonates,” studied 104 newborns with a gestational age of 32 weeks or less and a birth weight between 750 and 1,500 grams. The infants were divided into the massage or control groups, which had 52 babies in each category.

Mothers of babies in the massage group provided their infants with a 15-minute massage four times a day. The mothers were taught an infant-massage sequence that involved maternal massage to the face and limbs, along with passive exercises of the baby’s upper and lower limbs, according to the study. With the exception of massage, newborns in both groups received the same care, which consisted of skin-to-skin contact from their mothers.

The results of the study showed that infants with very low birth weight who received maternal massage and skin-to-skin care left the hospital seven days sooner than similar newborns who did not receive massage.

The research also showed that the occurrence of late-onset sepsis was higher among infants in the control group, researchers reported.

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

Jeremy Maready