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Using Infant Massage in a New Parent Support Program Overseas

One of my new CEIMs, Lisa Steffian, wrote me from Spain: My position as the New Parent Support Program Specialist at a base in Europe allowed me excellent access to all expectant parents served at our base hospital. I collaborated with a variety of early childhood educators, health professionals, and specialists to promote my class via flyers during other parenting workshops offered on the base. I conducted a monthly radio show on our local Armed Forces Network station. During this time, I was able to discuss the benefits of infant massage and to market my classes. I published my class flyer in our local base newspaper, the Coastline on a bi-monthly basis. I had a booth at two of our Healthy Families Fairs where I was able to distribute flyers advertising my classes and to hand out articles outlining the benefits of infant massage.  I received web articles from the newsletter which I printed and shared with my students.

I tried to start the class with some humor to loosen everyone up. Once we really started engaging as a class and I noticed the impact of massage on the parents and babies, I felt very emotional at times. I saw dads that I thought of as tough guys really connect with their new babies. I witnessed the power and intimacy created between couples who came to class and learned how to massage together. I became motivated to share this skill with non-traditional students, like dads who are in combat or deploy frequently.

I would like to advertise my infant massage classes to first-time active duty military fathers. An opportune time to do this would be during the “Daddy Bootcamp” classes they have at our local Naval base. These classes are for men only, typically very down to earth, and not overly “touchy feel” like some of the mom’s groups I attend. I would try to keep my pitch to learn infant massage light and use a sense of humor, but also make it factually based. During all “Daddy Bootcamp” classes there is a section about the “Period of Purple Crying” (when newborn is about 4-8 weeks of age) when crying typically peaks and may seem inconsolable. During this section, I would recommend infant massage as a key strategy to help out during this stressful period at home.

One of the things that military dads worry about is how deployment will affect their family. I suggest that doing infant massage is one way to stay connected and to reconnect with your newborn before and after deployment.

Being an instructor in Infant Massage has enriched my life in many ways, most importantly it has gotten me back in touch with young parents.