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Infant Massage Contraindications

Catherine McDowell, OTR/L, LMBT, E-RYT200/RYT500

August 14, 2017

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Question

What are the contraindications for infant massage?  

Answer

  • Acute infections     
  • Recent Surgery
  • Fever     
  • Open Sores
  • Sickness    
  • Less than 72 hours after immunization
  • Diarrhea     
  • Inflammation
  • Undiagnosed lumps and bumps     
  • Jaundice
  • Contagious Disease    
  • Meningitis
  • Serious Skin Complaints  
  • Recent Hemorrhage
  • Varicose Veins     
  • Childhood Leukemia
  • The treatment of eczema can be contraindicated if the eczema is weeping or infected. 

Many of these contraindications are common sense. If they are under a doctor's care, I require a medical release from the doctor. I want the doctor to know that we are doing infant massage, and what type of massage we are doing. We do not want to touch open sores or put oil on open sores. If you are not quite sure what is going on with them with an unexplained sickness, this would be a contraindication. You want to wait 72 hours after immunizations. You want to see what the baby's response is to the immunization before you begin a massage regimen, just in case there is something else going on. Diarrhea is another one. You do not want to be doing the abdominal strokes on a baby with diarrhea. I know some people who live with a school of thought that if the baby has diarrhea, to do the hand strokes in the opposite direction. I do not practice that. If they have diarrhea, there is something else going on in their body and in their system, and for that period of time, they should just be left alone. Inflammation and undiagnosed lumps and bumps are other issues to avoid. If you are in question of what is going on with a baby, the best practice is to hold off. Certainly, I would not work with a baby with a contagious disease. You do not want to be pass something to the baby, or vice versa. Meningitis, serious skin complaints, hemorrhage, varicose veins, and childhood leukemia are other areas to avoid. There is a whole school of thought as far as cancers are concerned. You are not going to push cancer around in someone's body. However, in the case of childhood leukemia, that is one that you do not want to be providing massage to. Finally, eczema is contraindication with open, weeping, or infected sores. However, if the skin is intact, the right cream for that skin condition can be really beneficial for the infant.


catherine mcdowell

Catherine McDowell, OTR/L, LMBT, E-RYT200/RYT500

Catherine McDowell has been an Occupational Therapist for over 20 years. After many years in the field of Occupational Therapy, first as a COTA, then OTR, becoming Director of Occupational Therapy at a nationally recognized United Cerebral Palsy program and the coordinator and teacher of the COTA program at Touro College in NY. Catherine took some time to explore a number of other health related fields, becoming a Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist, Yoga Therapist, RYT500/ E-RYT200 Yoga Alliance teacher, and Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. She has expanded her knowledge of complimentary healing practices, and now works to unite the theories and practices of a variety of ancient and culturally relevant medical practices with the practice of Occupational Therapy. Catherine is currently the Executive Director of June10 inc; a new concept in long-term residential substance abuse treatment program, which serves women, pregnant women and women with infants.


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