Massage can help parents bond with children

January 23, 2012|By AMY DULEBOHN |
  • Rebecca Willock gives her daughter, Hannah, infant massage at their Smithsburg home. Her sister-in-law, Kelly Willock, is a certified infant massage instructor and has taught how to bond with her daughter through touch.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Many modern parenting resources say that bonding — the earlier the better — is essential for building strong, healthy relationships.

One way that new parents can foster bonding is through infant massage.

Kelly Willock of Hagerstown would like to help with that. She is a certified infant massage instructor, who received accreditation through the International Association of Infant Massage.

The benefits of infant massage include helping with a colicky baby, brain stimulation and hand-eye coordination, she said.

"It's all about bonding," Willock said.

In order to help parents become comfortable with the idea of applying touch to their tiny children, Willock uses a doll to teach the parents the massage techniques. She said she prefers to meet for an hour weekly for four weeks in a private, quiet environment.

Usually mothers take classes, but she has worked with one husband-and-wife team, but men are certainly welcome to take classes, as well.

Rebecca Willock, 34, who lives near Smithsburg, is the mother of seven children, ages 2 to 14, and is Kelly's sister-in-law.

Rebecca first became familiar with infant massage when her second son, Aaron, now 11, was born. He is physically delayed, and had low-muscle tone. Professionals at Total Rehab Care recommended infant massage to help him develop, Rebecca said.

In 2007, Rebecca and her husband, Brad, adopted daughter Hannah, who was 18 months old at the time. Hannah has the same delays as older brother Aaron, and is also legally blind.

Rebecca Willock said she was pleased with the results of massage on Aaron, and physical therapies also recommended infant massage for Hannah, to help her bond with her new family, particularly because of her sight issues and would respond well to hands-on activity.

By that time, Kelly Willock, who is also a licensed massage therapist and a certified lactation counselor, became an infant massage instructor.

Hannah and Rebecca, in fact, were Kelly Willocks' first clients.

Rebecca Willock said she particularly enjoys the time she spends doing massage techniques because, "it is a quiet time, just the two of us. There is no other outside stimulation."

She said for her family, the best time to do massage is just after their mealtime.

She spends from 10 minutes to a half hour massaging her younger children, depending on their ages and personality.

Rebecca's youngest child, Jude, now 2, also has benefitted from infant massage as he had issues with colic that were alleviated through massage.

Hannah, now 6, is not able to walk yet, but can sit on the floor and roll. Aaron is able to maneuver independently in a wheelchair. He is more social than his sister, and us "downright nosy," according to his mother.

Kelly Willock, 27, said her mother was a day-care mom, and having a brother with a large  family helped her foster a love for children and a desire to help. She is also is a doula in training. Doulas are professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after birth.

Kelly Willock is available for infant classes, doula services, as well as prenatal and regular massage appointments.

For more information, call her at 301-733-4445.

Infant massage

According to the International Association of Infant Massage, infant massage can help in the following:

  •  Makes baby feel loved
  •  Promotes better sleep
  •  Facilitates body awareness
  •  Boosts immune system
  •  Sensory stimulation
  •  Improves skin condition
  •  Helps digestion
  •  Relief for teething pains
  •  Helps parents learn about their baby (Their needs and desires)
  •  Relaxes parents


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