I really enjoed the course, in fact it's the best course I've ever been on


IAIM and Body & Soul
Recent Oil Research
Research Into Baby Massage Oil - Olive Oil

IAIM and Body & Soul

May 2015

We are really excited about a collaboration that has started between the IAIM UK Chapter and London based HIV charity, Body & Soul, which sees the introduction of baby massage classes into the charity.

The collaboration, which started in May, saw one of our members, Sanita Ellis, start to work with the young parents living or affected by HIV at the centre by offering them the wonderful and highly beneficial skill that is baby massage. Our founder, Vimala McClure, has a vision that “every parent, regardless of personal philosophy, and every infant, regardless of birth history or disposition, should have the opportunity to experience the lifelong benefits that come from early bonds that are loving, healthy and secure”. This vision continues to live on through all the work we do and through this fantastic collaboration between the IAIM and Body & Soul.

Baby massage offers a wonderful experience and a special time for parents to communicate both verbally and non-verbally with their babies, so that they feel loved, valued and respected. As a mother living with HIV, breastfeeding baby is not an option as the virus is found in breastmilk. By avoiding breastfeeding, alongside working with a doctor on a treatment plan for mother and baby, in the UK, thousands of women who are HIV positive have given birth to healthy babies. However not being able to breastfeed can be difficult, notably the absence of one of the most natural bonding experiences can create attachment, connection and communication challenges between mother and baby.

By working together with parents, the IAIM and Body & Soul aim to offer their young mother members a safe space to spend dedicated quality time with their baby, learning how to communicate and touch them with positive and caring movements, and giving them the support to gain confidence in being a mother.

Today Body & Soul is the busiest service of its kind in the UK, supporting over 4000 members with strategies to counteract the devastation of an HIV diagnosis with strategies to reduce isolation and stress, improve health and wellbeing and maximise opportunities for successful futures. Offering this opportunity through the IAIM will help to build on the respect, dignity and wellbeing of children, teenagers, adults and families living with and affected by HIV.

Anita Bates, President of the IAIM UK Chapter, said of the collaboration: “It is wonderful that we have the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and valuable charity. It is a privilege to be able to bring our expertise to this group of young parents, who probably would never have had the opportunity to learn this valuable skill which can help them to create and strengthen the bond with their baby.”

Anneke Liefting, Head of Volunteer Programmes, Body&Soul said: “We are all very excited about the collaboration with the IAIM. To be able to offer this activity to our parent members is invaluable and we are delighted that together we have made it a reality. We have some young parent members who need a huge amount of support and baby massage will certainly help to nurture their parent/baby relationships”.

Each week the mothers will learn how to massage their babies in classes led by an IAIM Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI), following a sequence that has been developed over many years and draws from both the Indian and Swedish massage traditions, as well as incorporating principles from yoga and reflexology. The benefits are bountiful and can include helping your baby to feel securely attached, more loved, valued and respected. It can also help to reduce crying and emotional distress and offer relief from wind, colic, constipation and teething discomfort. There are numerous benefits for parents too, such as feeling closer to your baby, helping to gain a deeper understanding of your baby's behaviour, crying and body language, and it provides an enjoyable opportunity to spend one-to-one time with your baby and can help to increase confidence in your ability to care for and nurture your baby.

To find out more about Body and soul find them online www.bodyandsoulcharity.org, on Facebook, www.facebook.com/BodySoulCharity or twitter @bodysoulcharity
IAIM – www.facebook.com/IAIMbabymassage / http://www.iaimbabymassage.co.uk

Jump to the top

Recent Oil Research

The debate on which is the best oil to use on a baby's skin has been going on for some time now and there has been a lot of discussion and confusion around the subject. Although the IAIM policy does not recommend any specific vegetable oil, we do however like to keep up-to-date with the most recent developments and findings. So here is one of the latest studies to be published on the use of oils.


Danby SG, Alenezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, Cork MJ

Academic Unit of Dermatology Research, Department of Infection and Immunity, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, University of Sheffield Medical School, Sheffield, UK.

Pediatr Dermatol. 2013 Jan;30(1):42-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2012.01865.x. Epub 2012 Sep 20.

Natural oils are advocated and used throughout the world as part of neonatal skin care, but there is an absence of evidence to support this practice. The goal of the current study was to ascertain the effect of olive oil and sunflower seed oil on the biophysical properties of the skin. Nineteen adult volunteers with and without a history of atopic dermatitis were recruited into two randomized forearm-controlled mechanistic studies. The first cohort applied six drops of olive oil to one forearm twice daily for 5 weeks. The second cohort applied six drops of olive oil to one forearm and six drops of sunflower seed oil to the other twice daily for 4 weeks. The effect of the treatments was evaluated by determining stratum corneum integrity and cohesion, intercorneocyte cohesion, moisturization, skin-surface pH, and erythema. Topical application of olive oil for 4 weeks caused a significant reduction in stratum corneum integrity and induced mild erythema in volunteers with and without a history of atopic dermatitis. Sunflower seed oil preserved stratum corneum integrity, did not cause erythema, and improved hydration in the same volunteers. In contrast to sunflower seed oil, topical treatment with olive oil significantly damages the skin barrier, and therefore has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, atopic dermatitis. The use of olive oil for the treatment of dry skin and infant massage should therefore be discouraged. These findings challenge the unfounded belief that all natural oils are beneficial for the skin and highlight the need for further research.


The IAIM continues to recommend an unscented vegetable oil, preferably organically grown and cold pressed if possible. All vegetable oils have different chemical compositions and properties and recent research indicates that any oil with high oleic acid content (ie. olive oil) should not be used on a baby's skin as it could affect the infant's immature skin barrier.

Jump to the top

Research Into Baby Massage Oil - Olive Oil

In 2009 we were alerted by a CIMI about the possibility of olive oil being damaging to infant skin. We followed this up and met with our contacts from Johnson's Baby (J&J) who were involved in funding this research on infant skin and olive oil.

Carol Trower, former UK Chapter President, and myself travelled to the Royal College of Midwives Conference, Manchester, to hear the evidence first hand and we had a long conversation with Professor Cork, a dermatologist from Sheffield who presented his preliminary evidence. In May 2010, some IAIM Trainers went to the Baby Symposium (Infant Skin Care: The Research, The Science, The Future), in Frankfurt, to also hear this lecture. Nothing about olive oil had been published by Professor Cork at this time.

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid found naturally in many plant sources, it makes up 55-80% of olive oil.

Professor Michael J Cork, University of Sheffield, UK, states:
"In dermatology, olive oil may be used to break down scaly skin as in seborrheic dermatitis (cradle cap) of the scalp in a baby. But due to its desquamation properties it should not be applied to most healthy babies as it could break down their fragile skin barriers. Anything that breaks down a baby's skin barrier may contribute to the development of atopic dermatitis."
Rumours that Professor Cork's work was biased due to J&J funding are totally untrue. Just like the IAIM, he does not endorse any product or company.

At the meeting we also met with senior staff and researchers from J&J and it was decided that the IAIM and J&J would work together to produce a combined statement on oils.

On 6 November 2010, the IAIM sent out an update to all members on the oil issue reaffirming their position on the choice of oil for baby massage. The Association has been very busy gathering up-to-date information to pass onto members, but as you will appreciate the whole science of oils and the physiology of babies' skin is very complex.

So that our IAIM philosophy holds true, the parents always remain the experts in their baby's care. We are educational facilitators, so parents are able to choose the oil they want following an educated and unbiased dialogue.

Cherry Bond, Developmental Care Educator

Jump to the top