Infant Massage USA® is the US Chapter to the International Association of Infant Massage Sweden. It was founded by DeAnna Elliott, Juliana Dellinger-Bavolek, Donna Anderson, Suzanne Reese and Linda Storm in March of 2005.
Our mission is to promote nurturing touch through training, education, and research so that babies, parents, and caregivers are loved, valued, and respected throughout the world community.
History of the International Association
In the 1970s Vimala McClure introduced infant massage to the United States. While traveling through India she worked in an orphanage and witnessed first hand a 12-year-old girl who would massage all the children there. Even with the lack of proper nutrition, the children thrived, which she attributed to the massage they received.
Upon returning to the United States, she began massaging her own babies, researching the effects of touch on newborns and noting her personal observations. She developed an effective massage process that is described in her book, Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents. She combined her experience with Indian Massage strokes, Swedish massage and principals of reflexology and yoga. Her first book was authored in 1978 and later published by Bantam.
Vimala’s work attracted a lot of attention. In 1978, David Downes was visiting Boulder, CO and read an article about Vimala. He took it back to his wife, Audrey, knowing she would be interested. When Audrey read the article, she contacted Vimala and asked how she could get training to teach parents. Vimala encouraged her to organize a workshop in Chico, CA where she would give the training. A year later Vimala returned to Chico to complete Audrey’s training process. Audrey became the first Trainer to help Vimala in her vision.
As the organization grew, Audrey completed the process outlined by the International Association of Infant Massage Instructors to become a 501c3 non profit association. In 1986, Audrey Downes, Vimala McClure, DeAnna Wamsley (Elliott), Diana Moore, Jody Wright, Laurie Beth Evans, Maria Mathias, and Helen Moses met and signed the documents to make the association officially a non-profit public charity.
As more people were drawn to the work, instructors from other countries were trained. The International Conference and General Assembly in October 1992 decided to move the International Office to Sweden, and create chapters for each country. At the General Assembly in 1994, the word Instructors was deleted from the name, so the organization became known as the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), and the US Chapter, IAIM US Chapter.
At the IAIM General Assembly in 1998, a vote was held on several different international logo options. The winning logo was a beautiful design by Lorraine Tolley, an IAIM instructor. She explained, “I am the proud mother of Dominic, and have spent many special moments massaging him, and still do. I feel privileged to have witnessed the benefits so closely. Dominic has been my inspiration in so many ways and has broadened my views on life in a wonderful way. Designing the logo was one of those inspirations. The position of the parent cradling the child on the knee was how Dominic and I spent many a happy time interacting with each other. The letters and the image just appeared in my head from that one memory moment.” (Note that the letters IAIM are present in the logo.)
In November 2004, following the International Conference and GA in Montreal, Quebec, the board of the IAIM US Chapter voted to leave the International board as the US Chapter, and subsequently became IAIM Inc. This left no US Chapter affiliated with the International Association headquartered in Sweden. In response, DeAnna Elliott, Juliana Dellinger-Bavolek, Donna Anderson, Suzanne Reese and Linda Storm created Infant Massage USA® to be the US Chapter of the International Association in March of 2005. Original IAIM founders Vimala McClure, Audrey Downes, DeAnna Elliott, Helen Moses, Laurie Beth Evans and Jody Wright remain supporters, members and trainers with Infant Massage USA® to this day.
The work and vision of Vimala and the original founders has grown internationally. It is the largest Infant Massage Association in the world with Chapters and representatives in over 50 countries throughout the world.