training for professionalsBABY'S FIRST MASSAGE®


"Lead by example: SUPPORT women on their way to the top. Trust that they will

extend a hand to those who follow. " Mariela Dabbah








Words from Teresa about the process of creating this program...


"Thanks to the gift of Vimala McClure's work in founding the International Association of Infant Massage, I was trained and certified as an infant massage instructor in 1988. I started teaching infant massage at a busy metropolitan hospital in Dayton, Ohio in 1988. For several years, I had worked as a nurse in all the areas of obstetrical care, and had just become a licensed massage therapist. Teaching infant massage was one of those ultimate joys for me! All the benefits that you have been hearing about massage with babies were just beginning to become understood back then. It was very exciting and rewarding to offer families this ancient loving art, and see how the parents began to feel more capable, more attuned to their babies. The families shared stories with me of how much fun it was. Their babies were crying less, sleeping better, gaining weight, and were more alert and interactive. Family life became even more enjoyable.


It became clear to me, though, that new parents needed slightly different information about massaging their newborn babies, and babies in the neonatal intensive care unit responded more positively if I went about giving them massage in a modified way. For the tired, overwhelmed and sleep-deprived parents, the information had to be short, simple, and effective, and I had to reach them before or shortly after leaving the hospital. For the babies, I had to take into consideration their need to heal, grow and develop, settle into the outside world, and that some newborns are not medically stable, some are born prematurely, and some newborns have experienced exposure to drugs that can affect their nervous systems and make them more vulnerable to almost any stimulation.


After studying the research and taking additional training in massage with handicapped infants, in 1989, I began developing a program so simple, so protective, so solid and effective that a new parent could learn about crying and time out signals, how to comfort their baby, listening skills, and a set of massage strokes based on research that promotes digestion, elimination (yes, gas, too), weight gain, deeper sleep, improved immune system functioning, and bonding.


Several thousand instructors have been trained with BFM and it is in use at many hospitals, private practices, high schools and communities all over the U.S.A. and in some military hospitals at home and overseas.


May the gift of baby massage in all its aspects continue to work its way into the daily language and activities of all families everywhere."









Words from Amy about her time leading this program...


"Baby’s First Massage® has been a tremendous gift in my life, both professionally and personally. In 1998 I became a certified instructor for Baby’s First Massage® and was immediately impressed by the research based, comprehensive program that Teresa had created. Since then, I have had the privilege of working with Teresa, sharing her passion, and bringing the joy and healing of massage to babies and their families. I was thrilled to have taken the lead at Baby’s First Massage®."


As Amy continued her education she brought a deeper understanding of The Polyvagal Theory to the BFM program and it's students. This program has been enriched by her leadership and knowledge. As Amy's time with Baby's First Massage was winding down it lead her to another path of healing.


Amy opened a counseling center:


Amy Stenger-Sullivan is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor-Supervisor, trainer and CEO of Rooted Compassion Counseling and Consulting, LLC. As a Certified Trauma Responsive Counselor, Amy understands and applies knowledge of interpersonal neurobiology, Polyvagal Theory and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She specializes in utilizing and teaching about the nervous system to help people move into post-traumatic healing and growth.


Her goal is to help clients realize their mental health goals, experience healing and an increased sense of well-being. Amy works from a biology-based approach to healing - with the understanding that feelings are expressed first through the nervous system and then are processed in the brain. Her style is compassionate, empathetic, direct, and infused with humor. As a somatic health expert, Amy provides compassionate, person-focused, and practical therapy to individuals experiencing grief, anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, and work-life balance challenges. Having twenty years of experience as a massage therapist and body worker uniquely positions Amy to understand and appreciate the body-mind connection.


In sessions with Amy, you can expect her to encourage you to make this connection for yourself while accessing the wealth of information your nervous system has to offer you about feelings and past experiences. This connection brings lasting, healing and substantial growth. Amy brings a long history of service with new families to the counseling field. She works with women, couples and families experiencing infertility, pregnancy and postpartum struggles. Please visit her website as her and the team are able to provide services not only locally but via a secure video platform.








AUG 2021

to date


contact email:

Words from Diane about becoming the new CEO & facilitator...


"Thank you for being here and wanting to know the history behind The Baby’s First Massage® Program. It would not be able to thrive today without the extraordinary work of Teresa and Amy. I am grateful they have placed this program in my hands so that I may continue the important work of sharing the benefits of newborn massage.


As Amy was finishing graduate school she needed to focus on her studies. I would like to clarify The Baby’s First Massage® Program was never closed or dissolved, it was merely placed on pause until it could have the full attention it deserved. In late 2021 Amy passed the torch to me to take it off the back burner. It was my turn to reignite this program.


I have such a deep passion and personal connection to this program. In 2003 I trained with Teresa and became a certified newborn instructor. I have taught BFM in many hospitals, help me grow programs, and in my own studio spa. I have been featured in magazines, newspapers, and on the local news through teaching this program. With that said, I am only one person. Hellen Keller said "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." And her thought is why I became the new CEO & Facilitator of BFM and a continuing education provider because together, through The BFM program, WE CAN do so much!


A longer and more personal history about my career and why it has always been focused on the journey of pregnancy and parenthood...


Prior to opening my spa, I worked at a high risk OB/GYN Maternal Fetal Specialists office performing the non-stress testing. The patients we saw all had high risk pregnancies and some experienced loss. Having had miscarriages myself and going through failed rounds of ivf, I fully understood not everyone gets to be pregnant and not everyone gets to stay pregnant. As I began planning my first business I knew I wanted it to be focused on mothers and babies. I became an Ohio State Licensed Massage Therapist and was nationally certified with NCBTMB in 2001. In 2002 I became certified in prenatal massage, serving all stages of pregnancy and childbirth, with the Nurturing The Mother Program®. In 2003 I trained with Teresa and became a certified newborn instructor with The Baby’s First Massage® Program. These studies allowed me to open Mama & Me Photography Spa which has been serving women and babies for 20 years and counting!


Having been a SBO & LMT specializing in prenatal, postnatal, and newborn massage for over two decades I am bringing an understanding from the birth worker and massage therapists perspective. Additionally, I have added two new business elements to the program: the online learning platform and in person workshops focusing on business building. Not only do I want to help you complete the program but I want to see you flourish and be financially successful in business. I truly believe Baby's First Massage® is "our" business because together we can build a community of helping hands to make this world a kinder, gentler place for all."




These are the amazing people who work very hard behind the scenes to

make your learning experience the best it can be.

Bethany Burke-Thrasher, RN, BSN

BFM Nurse Planner


Bethany has dedicated her career to caring for patients as an rn. She has continued on with her education acquiring her bsn. She provides compassion and empathy that is often missing from todays medical world. She is an advocate for patients rights and never leaves a shift just because it's over. She is that nurse who will hold your hand. When not caring for patients, you can find her at home with her loving husband Mike, her kids; Jameson & GiGi and their super fun pet kids! We are so fortunate to have her as our nurse planner to help answer questions from a nursing perspective.

Wendi Lawson-Gissinger

BFM Program Planning Director


Wendi has spent her entire career serving the needs of families and children. From being an educator in public and parochial schools to being a nanny for new mothers welcoming a newborn, many think of her as family. She serves on many boards to further enhance the lives of children. When not caring for others, she is completely in love with her home life that includes her husband Aj, her daughter Suzette and their many adorable pet kids. She recently completed her studies with yoga training and is a perpetual student always seeing to learn more. We are elated to have her as not only our program planning director but also as a BFM CNMI.

Ashley Fortney BSW, LSW

BFM Program Enrollment Coordinator

& Workshop Collaborator


While studying Social Work at the university of Toledo Ashley uncovered a deep love for all walks of life. There is nothing more important to her than helping other people live a life they have always dreamed of while nurturing them and helping them unlock newfound potential. She is pleased to welcome new students into the program and will be assisting with the continuing education "Boundaries in Business" module of The Baby’s First Massage® Program so that SBO's can learn to care for themselves as they care for others.


In sharing our mission and education with professionals we are ensuring our practices are being implemented far and wide - making it possible for numerous families and children to thrive like never before.








Jessica Zarlingo

BFM Logistics Specialist



Alane Jewel

BFM Program Workshop Collaborator

Branding & Digital Marketing Strategies



Breane Dennewitz

BFM Program Workshop Collaborator

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist







1.877.955.6262 #4

Headquarters in Youngstown Ohio