President of Early Education
Visiting Fellow at Oxford Brookes University
Anita Epple Trainer of the Year - Nursery World Awards
When I decided to undertake a course of training in Infant Massage, I did a lot of research to find a reputable and rigorous training course. A combination of information available on the internet and personal recommendation brought me to Touch-Learn International. I completed my training in March 2012 and Anita Epple was the course tutor.
Anita embodies the organisation’s philosophy of respectful communication in all her interactions with the students. She is clearly very knowledgeable and experienced, but is open to new learning and always looking for ways to improve the training she offers. As a student I felt listened to, supported and challenged to move on in my learning and practice. Anita models the inclusive and respectful approach to learning and teaching that she advocates for work with parents and children. She comes over as genuine and open and her warmth and sense of humour help everyone relax and enjoy their learning.
She is absolutely committed to infant massage as a powerful form of early intervention which helps children develop and supports their parents in getting to know and respond to their babies, thus strengthening early attachment and communication. She is clearly also interested in researching the effects of massage and contributing to the evidence base for its effectiveness through her own research and through working with university-based researchers. She engages her students in dialogue about these interests and is interested in their perspectives as colleagues with a variety of different backgrounds and experience.
I could go on and on about other aspects of Anita’s excellent practice, but the bottom line is she made me and the rest of my group feel nurtured and empowered to be good massage teachers ourselves. She is simply a great and inspiring teacher and deserves to be more widely recognised as such.
Dr M. Suzanne Zeedyk, PhD,
University of Dundee and Havahug Foundation
There is a wealth of evidence now showing how beneficial infant massage is for babies’ development and for their relationships with their parents. It is particularly striking to realise that, as a form of communication, massage is literally building neural pathways in the brain. These are pathways that form the basis of a brain’s make-up for the rest of that person’s life.
What has always struck me about Pauline and Anita, founders of Touch-Learn International, is their excitement for exactly this kind of scientific information. They are so keen to spread the word about the multiple benefits of infant massage – benefits ranging from calming the baby, to boosting the mum’s confidence, to supplementing oxytocin levels in both partners’ brains, to reducing the costs for the NHS. I love their enthusiasm, and the eagerness with which they have undertaken a range of activities to spread the word. Those activities include innovative research studies, annual conferences, writing books, and organising training events in deprived communities (in countries such as Romania). You can tell as soon as you begin speaking to either of them that their passion is to bring ease to the lives of parents and children – through moments of quiet touch.
I continue to be very pleased to work with them and Touch-Learn and I hope that our vision of a world in which noise levels drop while oxytocin levels rise will soon come to pass!
Dr Angela Underdown
Associate Professor and Deputy Director of Warwick Infant and Family Wellbeing Unit at Warwick University Medical School
Foreword written by Angela for the book written by Anita Epple and Pauline Carpenter.
Infant Massage: The definitive guide for teaching parents.
From the very beginning, healthy infants actively seek interaction with others and, through everyday routines, their unique personalities become increasingly apparent to carers who are able to ‘tune in’ to their individual likes and dislikes, sensitivities and strengths. Research from a range of disciplines has indicated that the earliest years of life are a crucial period when young children are making emotional attachments and forming the first relationships which lay many of the foundations for future mental health.
Touching another person is a powerful way of establishing physical and emotional connections and an intrinsic part of caring for an infant. In many areas of the world especially in the African and Asian continents, indigenous South Pacific cultures and the Soviet Union, infant massage is a traditional practice. Recently in the UK there has been increasing interest from parents wanting to attend a programme to learn the art of massage with their babies.
Infant massage is increasingly being taught in the community and a recent systematic review (Underdown et al 2006) found that infant massage has beneficial effects in terms of reducing and balancing stress hormones, promoting sleep and encouraging positive interactions especially where mothers have been experiencing post-natal depression.
I have also been involved in primary research into infant massage and have had the great privilege of acting as a student with my ‘model baby’ as I have video taped and observed the classes. I would like to pay tribute to all the parents and teachers who have welcomed me into their classes and taught me so much. I quickly became aware of how skilful the group leaders must be, not only to teach the massage strokes but to facilitate interactions between all participants – parents and babies, parents and parents and, something I found particularly fascinating, the infants’ interest and pleasure in watching one other. Many of the leaders I observed, from a range of different trainings, had the skills to lead a group, teach massage, be warm and welcoming to both infants and parents, help people share any worries and concerns all while creating a relaxed and fun atmosphere!
Leading an effective infant massage group is highly skilled work and it is crucial that leaders receive the level of training to support them in this important role. The way in which infant massage is taught is crucial and it is with great pleasure that I write the foreword for this manual which documents good practice in the teaching of infant massage. Pauline and Anita have written a comprehensive manual which will be an invaluable reference tool for infant massage practitioners. Their writing is underpinned by a deep respect for the parents and infants as they show how learning infant massage can be an important medium for helping parents to tune into to their baby’s individual likes and dislikes, strengths and sensitivities.
Tuning into a baby’s cues and signals has implications far beyond massage and parents often report that there has been a positive impact on sleeping and feeding routines. Research too has shown that being massaged reduces stress hormones and promotes sleep. More research is still needed into infant massage and the useful section on writing for publication will hopefully encourage some practitioners to share their learning from working with parents and babies. The wealth of information in this book will give infant massage practitioners knowledge and confidence as they provide a fun and a sensitive forum in which parents and babies can enjoy the communication through touch.
BSc (Hons) Psychology, QIMT, DipH
Chairman of the Guild of Sensory Development
Infant Massage Teacher and Clinical Hypnotherapist
"I was very impressed with the comprehensive infant massage training I undertook with Touch-Learn seven years ago, when I became a Qualified Infant Massage Teacher (QIMT). The course gave me practical skills, as well as ensuring an understanding of the link between positive touch and developmental psychology, so that I felt confident to support and train parents from the word go. I found it all totally fascinating.
Seven years on, I am still teaching parents infant massage, as well as a Positive Birthing course using hypnosis, which includes a course in infant massage, once their baby is born. Positive communication and touch begin in the mother’s womb before her baby is born; it is the start of the important bonding process, which infant massage develops even further after birth.
Since undertaking my training, Touch-Learn have continued to develop their infant massage training, to ensure that course content and delivery are both to a very high standard. Past students are kept informed of developments, to ensure the quality of their own infant massage courses is maintained. As the Chairman of the Guild of Infant & Child Massage, who accredits the Touch-Learn courses, I have seen the positive developments in their courses, which I now feel set the standards for other training providers to follow."