If there’s one thing Diana Moore would like you to know, it’s that everyone should massage their baby. Moore admits it’s a slightly unusual claim, but she has devoted her career to this evidence-based practice.
Since 1992 Moore, founder, has headed the International Loving Touch Foundation, an organization that focuses on ways to enhance bonding and social emotional connections between parents and children through touch, with a focus on infant massage.
“Infant massage is a parent interaction. It helps with the bonding and attachment.” Moore said, emphasizing that it can have lifelong benefits for both child and parent.
“Have you ever had a massage? Even if you’ve had your back rubbed once in awhile and say ‘oh, that feels good’. For a baby coming out of the womb who’s had all kinds of sensory experiences, we just continue that womb experience outside by touching. It helps with the digestive tract, it helps with circulation, soothes them by reducing cortisol, a stress hormone. The baby is more calm, they sleep better.”
It also helps Dad bond with the child, she points out.
There is a wealth of research supporting Moore’s claims, in an exhaustive roundup compiled by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami. Infant massage is now taught locally at the OHSU Center for Women’s health, as well as Providence clinics in Oregon. Moore, who has been instrumental in the practices’ gaining popularity, pointed out that she has trained many of the instructors for these courses.
“I tend to be a pioneer in the things that I’ve done,” Moore said.
Moore, a veteran entrepreneur and local massage therapist, smiled as she described how since she was a girl, she always wanted to care for infants. At the same time, she became interested in massage through watching her grandmother, a local massage therapist.
By the mid 1970s she discovered a way to merge these two interests. She read a book called Loving Hands by Frederick Laboyer, which detailed how mothers in India teach their daughters baby massage as part of a family bonding ritual. She became fascinated with the way it brought families together as well as nurtured infants.
Moore earned her massage therapists license in 1974 and by 1980 began teaching classes in Portland on how parents could massage their own baby. She received lots of positive feedback on the practice, traveling around the U.S. and abroad to help train others and launch infant massage programs. Moore eventually founded the International Loving Touch foundation, which is currently in its 25th year of existence.
The International Loving Touch Foundation gathers research on infant massage, certifies new instructors in pediatric massage, as well as schedules classes and acts as a general clearinghouse for the growing world of infant massage.
A typical class on infant massage, according to Moore, is just 4 weeks long at a cost of $75. It is geared toward new parents, and instructs them on the basics of baby massage. “It’s wonderful to see it in action when their eyes are bright and wide,” Moore said.
Throughout her long career popularizing infant massage, Moore maintains a unique outlook.
“It takes persistence—and it can be gentle persistence, it doesn’t have to be forceful.” My motto is never, never, never give up, because doors do open.”
The doors have opened. Currently Moore is still teaching courses on infant massage, as well as owning and operating a retail store in SE Portland called EcoBabyGear, which specializes in safe, natural and eco-friendly baby products.
Diana Moore. 503-253-8482. Diana@ecobabygear.com. www.lovingtouch.com