Thursday, August 26, 2010

My take on Weleda taking on Infant Massage

I follow Weleda on Twitter, and a little bit ago, they put out a tweet about infant massage. Of course I had to check it out.

Let me start by saying I love Weleda. They're one of the only commercial companies I follow on Twitter, I like their products, etc etc. I'm very happy to see them promoting infant massage, especially and it's totally within their rights to use it as a vehicle for promoting their own products.  Part of me wants to question whether or how many of the products are entirely necessary.   I know for the sake of lubrication during massage, oil is indeed necessary, and soap of some sort is needed for bathing, but a separate moisturizer for infant skin?  I know there are conditions like baby eczema and such that would warrant it, but in my mind, it seems a little unnecessary for the average infant, especially if it's getting proper and adequate nutrition and hydration.  Baby skin is so naturally soft and smooth, and I'm largely of the belief that letting the skin do its job until/unless it needs help is ideal.  I suppose it doesn't hurt anything, though, and if you're going to use something, I'd recommend Weleda 10,000 times over petroleum anything, which is what so many people use.  (I welcome informative comments on why an average baby would need the extra moisture/drying protection, of course.  I'm always up to learn something new.)

I'm a tad let down by the video and download-able "step-by-step" instructions. I'm sure when they say "Infant Massage Therapist" in the beginning, they're just trying to make something sound fancy that doesn't really exist, at least not as far as I've heard or seen. Granted, I haven't been in infant massage circles very long at all and it's really such a small facet of both mainstream massage and mainstream childcare that there's really no regulation at all. No state (again, that I know of) is going to come in and say "You can't teach that, you're not certified!" Notice I say teach, not do. I suppose if someone really wanted to take on the liability of massaging someone else's infant... they could... but it defeats what I think is the best aim of infant massage: parent-child bonding. It's not about the massage, it's about time, and touch, and feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling, even tasting each other. So to call someone an "Infant Massage Therapist" who isn't pretty much just the baby's parent or caretaker, while small, is slightly dishonest, in my opinion. Sometimes I nitpick.

And given that nitpicking, part of me really wants to pick apart the massage "routine" they present. However, I have to remind myself that I often have told parents that while I teach a specific routine and methodology, when it comes down to it, unless you're harming the baby, there is no wrong way to massage your baby. So the routine is very simple, short, and loosely organized, but it encourages parents to touch and massage their children, and I applaud that very heartily.

So! while I could nitpick and be all gripe-y about it... eh!  Why bother, beyond the opinions I've already stated?  Good on Weleda for having excellent products and promoting parent-baby bonding and care!  Moms, Dads, and other family members: touch, cuddle, hug, enjoy, and love your babies.

Jena Vincent of Abundance Massage

1 comment:

  1. I work in communications for Weleda and I want to thank you for commenting on our baby massage video, for the kind words about us and our products, and also for recommending them to your readers.

    We receive a lot of questions from parents wondering how to use the products in our Calendula Baby Care, so in creating this video, one of our goals was to help show parents which products to use when and how to use them. While a healthy baby should indeed have healthy, beautiful skin, unfortunately it’s not always the case. Our skin’s protective acid mantle, which is responsible for protecting our skin from drying out, is not yet fully developed in babies, so it’s easy for their skin to become dry. Also, the glands in our skin that secrete oil are not yet fully developed, so moisture in their skin evaporates more quickly. A baby’s skin is very susceptible to external influences and can easily dry out from bathing too frequently, or from being in a room that is dry or warm. Certainly not all infants need a separate moisturizer all the time, but it can be beneficial.

    Patricia Pol, who is an amazing esthetician and one we are proud to call our own—she gives the most incredible facials and massages at our spa in Palisades, NY—performs the baby massage in the video. She has indeed earned the designation “Certified Infant Massage Therapist/Instructor.” She was certified by the Institute of Somatic Therapy, a NCBTMB approved institution. We offer infant massage how-to classes at our spa, taught by Patricia, for parents who want to learn more about the technique and benefits.

    And there are significant benefits to massaging a baby, beyond bonding or settling a crying infant in the middle of the night. Infant massage helps stimulate muscle development and coordination, improves circulation, eases digestion and alleviates congestion. That said, we wholly agree with you that one of the most important benefits of baby massage is parent-child bonding through the power of touch. It can also be a good way for fathers and grandparents to bond with a new baby. We hope that, by making this video, we’ve encouraged new parents to use infant massage as a way to bond and soothe their little ones.

    For more information, please check out this Q&A I did with Patricia on the benefits of baby massage for the Weleda blog:

    Thank you!
    -Carrie Ruehlman