When I started as an Occupational Therapist many years ago, I had the pleasure of working under the “Baby Whisperer”. She was our OT lead and absolutely amazing with infants. A majority of what I learned with her, are interventions I still use today. I even sing, and I will tell you that I absolutely HATED the idea of singing. She would make up her own songs and sing along, and make me sing. Now I make up my own songs and the babies love it.
Anyway, she also taught me the importance of positive touch and still touch. I had an in-service instructional class on massage with the new group of OTs in my department and then it took off from there. She would come with me and observe me massaging infants. She was highly critical, not just with babies but all levels of OT. Although it terrified me at the time, I can tell you with 100% certainty she is the therapist who made me who I am today. She taught me how to read infant cues, provide the right pressure and rhythm and to allow for the baby to show me his or her needs.
Fast-forward a few years later at my new job, I was seeing some infants in the cardiac unit and pediatric intensive care unit. I was massaging infants here and there when they were medically stable. I enjoyed it but wasn’t doing it as often as I was before. After a few years, I began to treat more and more often in the NICU. I slowly began integrating massage into my sessions again and remembered how much I loved it, but also how well infants responded to it. I went in November of 2019 to get my Neonatal Touch and Massage Certification Training. It was geared for pre-term to newborn infant. What happened next was parents were asking me what to do when their child got older. I had my experiences to utilize when explaining to them the next steps, but besides my early days as an OT I had no formal training. (Note that as OTs it is in our scope of practice to massage infants as appropriate without formal training). However, I was ready to get certified to help my other families grow in their massage with their infant and provide better information to them.
I completed my CEIM (Certified Education of Infant Massage) in October 2020. I have my first part of it done, and working on completing my practicum right now! This certification allows me to teach and provide classes to parents to provide bonding, positive touch, and good social interaction. There are wayyyyy more benefits to massage, and you can go to my section on infant massage to learn about those benefits! I absolutely love to teach it and see how it empowers parents
Here are some pictures of me during the class with my colleague Johanna (I work with her as well) and of one of my clients.