Not a penny for your touch<br><i>Free infant massage in Cottonwood</i>

Staff photo by Paula Blankenship

Born full term at just 4 pounds, 13 ounces, Skylar Mason is now six months old and weighs 8 pounds. In clinical studies, infant massage has reportedly aided in weight gain for infants born premature or with low birth weight.

Therapeutic touch enhances communication no matter what the age, says Olga Morris a teacher of infant massage every Thursday at the Healing Arts Center.

For the aging comedian, it's a 50-year old habit.

At age 97, Hope said a daily rubdown contributed to his youthful vibrancy.

At 6 months, Skylar is just getting started.

"I try to do it everyday night before he goes to bed," says the Cornville' boy's personal masseuse and mother, Scheherazade. "It helps to soothe him and care for him better."

Scheherazade learned the techniques from Morris at the Healing Arts Center and uses massage to bring she and her baby closer, one session at a time.

And bonding is just one of the many benefits of touch therapy.

According to Morris, infant massage can also relieve colic, gas, constipation and even help with weight gain.

At the Touch Research Institute at Florida's University of Miami premature babies receiving massage gained 47 percent more weight than those infants in standard care.

Elly Leduc , the infant massage instructor in "Baby Massage, a Video for Loving Parents," agrees: "It helps digestion, stimulates circulation, increases body awareness, vocalization and all kinds of things. It also helps babies sleep better which then helps everyone else sleep better."

And Hope, it's rumored, sleeps like a baby.

For more information on how you can learn the techniques of infant massage, call 634-7470.

Infant massage doesn't just feel great

Mothers from the Canadian Arctic to East Africa, from Russia to Sweden, know intuitively the benefits of infant massage.

Studies have shown that the hormone prolactin is increased in both parents massaging their infants, says Leduc. For mothers who are breast feeding this can increase milk production, but it is also known as the "mothering hormone." The effect is greater feelings of nurturing and ability to parent. For more information go to www.babymassage.net

In studies at the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami School of Medicine, babies who received ten days of massage therapy following their discharge showed gains in mental development and motor skills compared to those not receiving similar therapy.

TRI was the first center in the world devoted solely to the study of touch and its application in science and medicine.

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