Infant massage is a specialization that focuses on teaching caregivers and parents how to massage their babies. Research shows infant massage promotes weight gain in premature babies and improves the mother-infant relationship for mothers with postpartum depression.

Infant massage is a specialization that focuses on teaching caregivers and parents how to massage their babies. Research shows infant massage promotes weight gain in premature babies and improves the mother-infant relationship for mothers with postpartum depression.

There is also evidence that infant massage reduces mortality and infections in preterm infants. Among anecdotal benefits are improved sleep, soothing, decreased pain, increased happiness and increased attachment with the non-birthing parent. (Visit and search for infant massage to read the many studies on the benefits of this type of touch.)

Massage is a natural way of connection and a form of soothing touch that has been documented as far back as 2760 BC in China. Therapeutic touch and infant massage is a cultural tradition practiced in India, China, Asia and Africa. It is, however, not exclusive to humans.

Tina Allen
Tina Allen, LMT

“Touch is the first of our senses to develop and our most fundamental means of contact with the external world,” said Tina Allen, LMT, Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist and founder of Liddle Kidz Foundation. “It’s more than just a comforting sensation. Touch is critical for healthy development.

“The abundance or absence of touch we receive in our childhood shapes our emotional balance, physiological well-being and our capacity to lead a normal and healthy life,” Allen added.

Babies are People

Diana Moore, LMT, the founder of the International Loving Touch Foundation, is a pioneer in the field of infant massage education in the U.S. who came upon infant massage early on in her now 47-year career. Moore has spent the majority of her career developing and teaching infant massage around the world.

Diana Moore
Diana Moore, LMT

“Babies are people,” said Moore. “They are little people who grow up to be big people and they need lots of tender loving care when they are infants and children to be good people.”

Moore has participated in nine mission trips to orphanages in Romania and trained health care workers on infant massage. The babies who weren’t being touched and handled had huge developmental delays and many stopped crying when touched, she said.

“We got the staff more interested in understanding that there is a mental health piece about how we handle our children and we can make a better world if we start when they are babies and not try to fix things when they are adults and they have all these issues,” said Moore.

Sally Hayes, CMT, an infant massage educator based in Los Angeles, California, integrated her infant massage training into her pregnancy massage practice after receiving numerous requests from her clients.

“I got really interested in not just pregnancy massage but preconception and fertility work, and postpartum work. I think it is one of the best and underutilized facets of bodywork out there. Within that came a question of what about babies; can babies get massaged?” explains Hayes.

Sally Hayes
Sally Hayes, CMT

For her, infant massage fit nicely into her practice. She worked on clients during their preconception period, pregnancy, postpartum and then saw her clients, particularly first-time parents, gain confidence with their ability to soothe their babies with massage.

“I think it is such a beautiful thing to witness,” said Hayes. “It is very important, especially in American culture where we are touch-deprived. Therapeutic touch is not woven into the fabric of our society and culture and it is very important to start at a young age. Therapeutic touch gives them healthy coping mechanisms for life, consent and boundaries. And all those great lessons come within a 20-minute infant massage instruction.”

How to Get Certified in Infant Massage

Becoming certified as an infant massage educator allows you to teach parents how to effectively massage their babies in group or private instruction. There are many programs available to become certified and they typically include a weekend training with hands-on experience and review of theory and research.

The International Loving Touch Foundation offers a hybrid online and live-stream course which can be completed over 90 days. Their in-person courses are held over a weekend. Liddle Kidz Foundation has courses for infant and pediatric massage, with additional levels for advanced studies.

As an infant massage educator, it recommended to be up to date on current research. There are hundreds of studies available to support infant massage, including the research of Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

How Infant Massage is Taught

Infant massage is taught in person with a certified instructor in short classes ranging from 20 to 45 minutes over a set number of weeks.

The instructor typically places themselves side-by-side with the parent and demonstrates the technique on a doll as the parent follows along. The classes are kept short because an infant’s attention is often interrupted with needs for sleep, changing or food.

Parents take in the information and apply it throughout the week and meet with the instructor again. Classes can continue until the parent feels fully confident in making it a part of their everyday routine.

While most parents are introduced to infant massage while their babies are under 6 months, it is never too late to start, as the techniques can be applied as they grow.

Melissa Gorry
Melissa Gorry

“You can massage your baby from birth. You can also massage your baby when they are moving; it is a bit tougher, granted as they are busy little people but it can be done. Our little people love touch and respond so beautifully to it. You can start at any age,” said Melissa Gorry, an infant massage instructor and coach based out of Australia.

Infant Massage Online and In-Person Classes

COVID may have closed the doors for instructors to meet with parents one-on-one but it opened online windows for live-stream instruction, said Moore and Hayes.

Moore, who certifies infant massage instructors, created a hybrid course that includes guided lectures and tutorials along with live-stream instruction. Hayes, who works with parents, took her practice online and said it expanded her audience.

Gorry, a new mom herself, developed a self-paced, five-week online course where she demonstrates techniques and bonding with her infant daughter. She said this gives parents the opportunity to see a real-life example at a baby-led pace.

Infant Massage as a Career

Kick-starting an infant massage career takes adjusting to a different dynamic between massage therapist and client, since the clients are parents and infants. It also requires some networking within parenting circles and a natural liking to parents and children.

“You have to understand that it is not so mechanical that you’re going to get in there and do so many strokes. It’s not like that; it’s about relationship,” said Moore. “You’re entering the aura of the parent-baby dyad at a very vulnerable time. As a parent, you want someone who is going to be sensitive to you. You don’t want someone who is going to boss you around. You have hormones, and the sensitivity of a parent and a baby is high.”

Since clients are parents and soon-to-be mothers, infant massage naturally fits into a massage therapy practice that tailors around pregnancy and perinatal clients. Massage therapists who are dually licensed as doulas or child care educators can easily work this into their business.

Hayes added infant massage to her practice five years ago and said it brought excitement to her clients as they took their pregnancy massage treatment plan farther. The additional encouragement and hand-holding during those first months postpartum gave clients a sense of calm as they navigated their way into parenthood she said.

“The best part of infant massage is that it falls nicely within the sphere of pregnancy. The great thing about working with pregnancy and postpartum work is there is a schedule we discuss. Most people naturally ask how often they should get massaged, do they have to stop getting massaged at a certain point, and when can they start getting massaged again.

It is really nice to be able to explain their massage plan and that there is also the option of infant massage afterwards. It excites people throughout their pregnancy,” said Hayes.

For massage therapists without a built-in clientele like pregnancy massage, you can network to parenting groups and seek referrals from pediatric doctors, doulas and other health care providers who work with expecting parents and infants.

Hayes said her pregnancy massage practice was started with her very first client upon graduating who was pregnant and referred her mommy group friends for a massage with Hayes. “I was booked with pregnancy massages for weeks after,” she said.

Moore suggests if you plan on taking up infant massage as a career, build relationships with parents and get trained in pregnancy massage. While many of the medical practitioners who offer infant massage do it through state programs and hospitals, there is great demand for it in the general public, said Moore.

“I get so much joy watching a parent connect with their baby and they get this gleam in their eye and their face brightens up and they have this little conversation going with their baby. It makes for a happy world,” said Moore.

Aiyana Fraley

About the Author

Aiyana Fraley, LMT, is a freelance writer and health care professional with more than 18 years of experience in the massage field. She teaches yoga and offers sessions in massage, Reiki, sound healing and essential oils. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “Yomassage: Massage + Yoga = A New Revenue Stream for MTs.”