Kirsten and Kent Melum took their son, Ethan, to an infant massage class at WakeMed when he was four weeks old. Each stroke brings the family closer together.
"It's about 20 minutes out of our day where we can spend time with the baby and kind of bond with him and know that it's something that's really healthy for him," Kirsten says.
"The instructor kind of shows you every step of the way what to do, but it's very easy to learn to pick up," Kent says.
Research shows infant massage also helps babies sleep.
"Afterwards, he seems to like it because he falls asleep. He just falls into a deep sleep, so I think it relaxes him a lot," Kirsten says.
Massage strokes can soothe a colicky baby and even ease stomach problems and constipation, but instructors are quick to point out that it is not exercise.
"What it does is the massage strokes work in the direction of the digestive tract and help move those materials through the system," says certified infant massage instructor Elizabeth Jones. "It is not an exercise program. What it is meant to be is a relaxation massage."
The Infant Massage Association recommends parents go to classes and learn infant massage before trying it. For more information on classes at WakeMed, you can call
. You can also check with your local hospital to see if classes are available.
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