Every body deserves a massage

back massage

What do you think of when you think “massage”? A luxury during vacation? A day at the spa? Training for athletes? Received during physical therapy after an injury?

Did you know the whole family can use massage? From infants to parents, massage has many benefits to help the entire family.

Massage is a holistic modality that can be adjusted for all family members. Adjustments can include duration, pressure, positioning or focus. Research supports massage for health and wellness, as well as an evidence-based procedure for many health conditions.


Infant massage can be performed by a licensed massage therapist or by the parents. It is recommended to create a routine and massage your baby several times a week at the same time (e.g., after bath, before bedtime, etc.). Some benefits your baby may receive include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Weight gain in premature births
  • A strong parent-baby bonding
  • Improved motor-development


Toddlers to pre-teens can benefit from massage for wellness or to help treat a specific condition. Often these sessions, like infant massage, are shortened to 15 to 20 minutes to start, and increase to 30 minutes. Benefits can include:

  • A better mood
  • Helping children relax
  • Learning about safe touch
  • Improved mind clarity


Teenagers can benefit from a wide range of benefits from massage. Whether your teenager is preparing for an exam, starting to play organized sports, or simply coping with being a teenager, massage is a great choice. Your teen may receive benefits like:

  • A decrease in headaches
  • Reduced stress from school, peers and test anxiety
  • An improved positive body image
  • Prevention of athletic injuries and an increased range of motion


We don’t want to forget about mom and dad. Whether a parent is looking to reduce stress or treat a health condition massage may be the answer.

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Treatment for headaches and migraines, reducing the number of headaches and/or the severity
  • Increased range of motion
  • Decreased muscle pain

Choosing the right type

Don’t think of massage as just a “splurge” while on vacation. Massage can be a part of your family’s wellness routine or can address many conditions like headaches, fibromyalgia, oncology and arthritis. Which type of massage is right for you?

  • Clinical massage – from relaxation to area or condition specific
  • Cranial sacral therapy – a light-touch therapy that helps the body return to balance
  • Hot stone massage – heated stones to relieve stress in many layers of the body
  • Hydrotherapy – warm and cool towels used in improve circulation of blood and lymph
  • Indian head massage – an ancient technique uses massage and energy balancing along with warm oil
  • Lymphatic wellness treatment – helps renew energy and promotes a healthy immune system
  • Massage cupping – negative pressure to help reduce scar tissue and adhesions
  • Neuromuscular therapy – decrease trigger points to improve function and decrease muscle pain
  • Oncology massage – can reduce the many side effects of the treatment of cancer

Making an appointment

Beaumont Integrative Medicine offers clinical massage in Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, Troy and West Bloomfield. Call 248-964-9200 and mention this article to receive $10 off your next massage appointment. This offer expires December 31, 2018. For more information visit us online.

Karen Armstrong, LMT, BCTMB is the manager of Clinical Massage at Beaumont Health, which includes four outpatient clinics covering three campuses.  She also manages Beaumont’s nationally recognized oncology and hospital massage program.

Breastfeeding Lifestyle class

mom nursing baby in mother's room

U.S. Air Force photo, Airman 1st Class Haley A. Stevens.

As you prepare for your baby’s birth, you may find yourself thinking about what life will be like after baby is here. Mothers who are planning to breastfeed may be concerned about continuing breastfeeding while going back to work, school, or returning to “life.” Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education department has the perfect class to answer some of these questions and concerns: Breastfeeding Lifestyle.

This one-time class is taught by a Beaumont nurse educator and welcomes expectant or new moms. There is no wrong time to take this class. Some expectant families want to make sure they gain all the knowledge they need before the new baby’s arrival. Other families may want to gain knowledge when they need it.

There are benefits to taking this class after your new baby has arrived though. In the beginning of your breastfeeding experience, you focus on getting started and making sure baby is getting what he or she needs nutritionally. After a few weeks, you may discover that breastfeeding has gotten easier and you may start thinking about “life” and your “new normal” with your baby.

Regardless of when you take the class, we encourage your support person to attend as well. Your support person may have his or her own questions about breastfeeding an infant.

Topics discussed in this class include:

  • Adjustments you will make as a breastfeeding parent
  • Learning to use a breast pump
  • How to store your breastmilk
  • Going back to work or school
  • Baby’s growth spurts and your milk supply
  • Teething

Enroll in a breastfeeding class today.

– Maribeth Baker, RN HBCE LCCE, is a program coordinator with the Beaumont Community Health and Prenatal and Family Education department.

Beaumont’s Preparing for Breastfeeding class

mom breastfeeding baby

Cropped image. Marc van der Chijs, Flickr. CC license.

Congratulations! Becoming a new parent can be very exciting. Many expectant families ponder the question, “How should I prepare for my baby?” As a nurse and childbirth educator, I say that one of the most important ways a family can prepare for a new baby is to educate themselves with evidence-based information.

Many of us turn to technology to answer these questions, but unfortunately it is very hard to distinguish evidence-based, accurate information. For your convenience, Beaumont’s Prenatal and Family Education Department offers classes and educational materials to get you prepared for your new baby with confidence. Research found that families who take education classes before the birth of their baby felt more confident with their base knowledge when taking their newborns home.

One important decision expectant families will make is about breastfeeding. This question can lead to a cascade of questions and the best way to get answers is to take a Preparing for Breastfeeding class. Led by a Beaumont nurse educator, this one-time, three-hour class will discuss topics like:

  • What are the benefits for mom and baby?
  • How does a mother’s body make breastmilk?
  • How do I get the best start to breastfeeding?
  • How do I position myself and my baby to breastfeed?
  • What is all this talk about getting a “good” or “correct” latch?
  • How can my partner be part of the breastfeeding experience?
  • How do I know I am doing this right?
  • How do we know our baby is getting what they need?
  • How do we know when to ask for help?
  • What can we expect with breastfeeding in the first few weeks after my baby’s birth?

The “Understanding Breastfeeding Book” you receive in class will give you access to app-based information to help you through your experience. This can be used to help navigate the early days home with your new baby.

Enroll in a breastfeeding class today. This class is also available as an independent study.

– Maribeth Baker, RN HBCE LCCE, is a program coordinator with the Beaumont Community Health and Prenatal and Family Education department.

Perspective in reading

bookstore window "The Day the Crayons Quit"

Cropped image. Walter Baxter, Geograph.org. CC license.

Close your eyes and imagine a world in which your child can look at the world and problems in multiple ways. One where your child considers other peoples’ perspectives and sees things from a point of view besides their own. Your child would act on the best interest of all and not strictly on their own. Now open your eyes and see the world in reality; a world where many people are inconsiderate, rude or self-centered. But parents can help children understand perspective before they enter school through reading together and developing a child’s language skills.

Teaching children about perspective

Toddler-age children

Research shows that children as young as two or three years old can be taught perspective. At this age, a child might help another child who is upset or crying, by offering a hug or a toy as comfort.

Young children may still confuse their perspective with others’ perspectives. They may believe that how they see things in the world is the way that others do, too. For example, if a child really dislikes something like a chocolate chip cookie, he feels that other people do as well.

Preschool-age children

Each day, a parent deals with many emotions. Maybe you had a disagreement with a friend or family member. Perhaps a family member is old, sick and having difficulty. Or you’re very excited because you won a trip. Good or bad, emotions are part of our daily life.

It is important to talk about the feelings and emotions that you are experiencing.

  • Label the emotion or feeling and talk to your child about it. If it is a negative emotion, talk about what helps you feel better.
  • When you see someone upset, talk with your child about it and problem solve what could help the upset person feel better. If possible, do what you can to help. Label the emotion again.

Lower elementary-age children

Continue to talk about perspective as it aids significantly in reading comprehension and success in school.

Reading as a tool for teaching perspective

Literarydevices.net says, “While reading a fiction or non-fiction book, readers see and experience the events and feelings about the characters through a certain point of view, which is called ‘perspective’. A perspective is a literary tool, which serves as a lens through which readers observe the characters, events and happenings.” In other words, point of view (or perspective) shows the opinions and feelings of those involved in the story. If a parent and child talk about this as part of their reading time together, the child will grasp the concept much more easily in the classroom.

In fiction books, we see four points of view.

  1. First person. The work uses “I” or “we” throughout. For example, “I love it when you cuddle up and read me a book.”
  2. Second person. The work uses the pronoun “you.” An example of this is, “Often you feel angry when the dog won’t stop barking.”
  3. Third person. Authors use pronouns like “he,” “she,” “it,” “they,” or someone’s name. For example, “Miss Linda is a disciplined woman. She always eats her vegetables like her mother told her to do.”
  4. The author uses “he” and “she” but the narrator has full access to the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters in the story. Shel Silverstein used in the book “The Giving Tree” that I wrote about in May.

Putting this into action

When reading with a preschool-age child, talk about the story then discuss the characters in the book and how they feel. Give the feelings a label. This process helps children understand not only the stories read to them, but also their feelings and how a character’s feelings may be different than their own.

With older children (lower-elementary age), read together then stop and talk about the reaction to situations that may be happy or sad. Discuss why the character is feeling that way.

Book recommendations

There are several picture books that consider multiple perspectives. I read most of these books with children of different ages. While reading these books with your child, it’s fun to consider perspective from another character.

Other good books that help children understand perspective are:

Upper elementary-age children can enjoy exploring perspective with these books:

So get a book with multiple points of view (picture book or not) and read it with your child. Talk with your child at their level and consider multiple perspectives of the characters. Over the years, watch your child’s language and reading skills grow. However, I feel the best gift from your reading together is a well-rounded child who can look at the world and view the things that happen in many ways. Happy reading!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

Sunscreens and sun safety

face with sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen

Life doesn’t settle down much in the summertime with kids. Already my children went to the beach, played soccer, climbed trees, played at the playground, rode bikes and more. They are bathing in their newfound freedom! They are also bathing in the sun’s rays for much of the day. How do we keep our kids and ourselves safe while having fun in the sun?

Sunscreen may be the first thing to come to mind, but sunscreen alone is not enough. According to warnings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we should plan outings and activities before or after the hottest hours of the day (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and broad-rimmed hats.

However, our schedules don’t always allow us to stay out of the sun at midday and it’s hot! Kids (and adults) won’t always want to wear long sleeves. Therefore, the CDC also reminds us to seek shade under a tree or use an umbrella. And always protect your eyes with sunglasses, preferably wrap-around sunglasses, that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Protective clothing and shade are especially important for infants under 6 months of age, who should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. Yet most sunscreen products also warn against use on children younger than 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concedes, “When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) on infants under 6 months to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands.” The AAP reminds us that sunscreen takes 30 minutes to be effective and to apply cool compresses if an infant gets sunburned.

We learned as children that we can get sunburned quickly while in the water because of the water’s reflective surface. We should also be extra diligent near sand and concrete (and snow), which can also reflect sunlight and intensify exposure.

Now for the sunscreen. For optimal coverage, apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out, then reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or even sweating. “There’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. “All sunscreens eventually wash off.” Look for reapplication instructions on products labeled “water resistant.”

Take your time reading sunscreen labels. Not all products protect equally and some may contain ingredients that are harmful to you and the environment. For help on reading sunscreen labels, we can look to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG examines sunscreen products and the latest research each year. Here are more tips for what to look for (and avoid) based on their recommendations:

  1. Broad spectrum. Experts agree we need to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Choose SPF 15 to 50+. The effectiveness of sunscreens tapers off at 50. SPF numbers higher than that can give a false sense of protection and keep you out in the sun too long.
  3. No Vitamin A. Also called retinyl palmitate or retinol. While Vitamin A is important in our diet, it’s not good on our skin. Government data shows “tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with creams laced with vitamin A,” according to EWG.
  4. Avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are harmful to human health and the environment. Studies show these chemicals are synthetic estrogens that can disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system. In the water, they destroy coral reefs. Hawai’i just became the first state to pass legislation banning the sale of sunscreen products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in an effort protect coral reefs from bleaching. “An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually with the greatest damage found in popular reef areas in Hawaii and the Caribbean…,” according the New York Times.
  5. Look for zinc oxide or 3 percent avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. They protect skin from harmful UVA radiation. Visit EWG’s Sunscreen database for more information on specific products. EWG’s Best Scoring Kids’ Sunscreens and EWG’s Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens.
  6. No insect repellent. If you need bug repellent, buy it separately and apply it first.
  7. Don’t spray. Sprays cloud the air with tiny particles that may not be safe to breathe.

Now hopefully I can catch my kids before they run out the door.

– Melissa Cooper Sargent is Beaumont Parenting Program blog contributor with a background in green living.

When I was a kid

1980s nintendo

When I was a kid, I remember driving Up North in a new car that had the cutting edge in luxury: cruise control.

My dad was at the wheel, mom in front, sisters and I in back, driving up I-75. When we got into open space, my dad decided it was time to try it out. We all held our breath as he flipped the switch.

I’m constantly reminded of all the technology my kids have in their lives. Growing up, we had to use needle nose pliers to change the TV from 2, 4 or 7. If we wanted to watch 20 or 50, we had to put the TV on “U.”

Now, my kids ask me to pause the TV. They’ve even tried swiping the screen to get to the Netflix show they want. And, honestly, I’m not sure why they’re being taught to use a keyboard and mouse. Everything in their lives will be touch-screen or track pad.

Gone are the days when you have to program the VCR to the correct channel, then pray that it actually records. They’ll never know how close I had to sit to the TV when I was playing Super Mario Bros. or Paperboy on my Nintendo because there were actual wires running from the console to my controller.

They’ve also never known peace. We’ve been at war since before they were born. They’ve witnessed an African-American man as president and the first woman ever make it to the ballot. And also, love is love.

When school starts in the fall, I’ll have first graders. Every kid in their school will have their own laptop. That amazes me because when I was in grade school, I can still remember the sound made by our five Texas Instruments computers as they rolled down the hall. That and playing the original Oregon Trail.

Seeing your photos is instant, you can shop for just about anything from your couch, and cars drive themselves.

What in the world will we think of next?

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.

Eat more and eat less: A lesson in food volume

nutrient dense meal

We often hear the phrase, “We eat with our eyes.” This can be a challenge or an asset depending on the food in question. Being mindful of nutrient density and food volume can make a big difference in energy (calories) and nutrients consumed.

Do you know the difference between energy and nutrients? Nutrient density is defined as “relatively rich in nutrients for the number of calories contained.” Energy density, on the other hand, is “the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume;” in this case, the system is food, and the unit is calories.

Nutrient density vs. energy density (caloric density)

Consider these meals side-by-side:

Low nutrient density,
High energy density
High nutrient density,
Low energy density
3 chicken strips Turkey sandwich on wheat bread
10 French fries 1 cup baby carrots
1 tablespoon hummus
1 medium apple
1 chocolate pudding cup

Both meals contain approximately 500 calories, but the food volume and nutrient density is vastly different. The meal on the left side is less nutrient dense, but highly calorically dense. This meal takes up less room on the plate, but has the same number of calories as the meal on the right. Additionally, the meal on the right incorporates fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.

Now take a look at this image and notice what 400 calories can feel like to a stomach.

400 calories fills up stomach differently

image credit: clipart-library.com

How can we use energy and nutrient density to our advantage?

Seeing more food on our plates automatically makes us want to eat more, which is why it’s important to fill our plates with foods high in nutrient density and low in energy density. Some examples of foods high in nutrient density and low in energy density are:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains (air-popped popcorn, brown rice, whole grain cereal)
  • Lean proteins and dairy products

Even though these foods are low in energy density and high in nutrient density, it is important to be mindful of how these foods are prepared. Using excessive sauce, butter, oil, and so forth can increase the energy density without increasing the volume of food. When prepared using light cooking methods such as steaming, roasting, grilling, and sautéing with minimal fat, these foods can be used to add filling nutrients to meals without significantly increasing total energy intake.

References and recommended readings

– Sarah Irving, RDN, is a clinical dietitian at the Beaumont Weight Control Center Royal Oak. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.


Enter your email address and you'll receive notifications of new posts in your in-box.

Join 2,906 other followers

Free Developmental Screening

Confidential online developmental screening for children up to age 5