Join me as I welcome to the Kids Sleep Show, Elina Furman, Founder, Kahlmi, where we dive into the world of massage and the amazing benefits it can have for babies, child and for parents, as a new way to connect with our littles.
Elina Furman is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor with over 15 years in the baby products industry. She is deeply passionate about spreading awareness of the many science-backed benefits of infant/child massage and earned her infant massage certification after talking to many parents who were confused and bewildered about how to perform baby massage.
As a baby massage expert, she has conducted education for such brands as Lovevery, Legendairy Milk, Mama Glow, Finn & Emma among many others and has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Byrdie, Pop Sugar and many popular maternity podcasts. Her social media community is growing every day with 480K followers on TikTok and 330K on Instagram, and her book 101 Natural Baby Hacks is slated for release by BenBella Books in 2024.
As the founder of Kahlmi, the 1st baby massage brand, she launched the first bonding and massage tool for babies/children called the “Theragun for Babies” featuring Acu-touch technology and vibration to help families connect, calm and comfort.
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Hey everyone, Courtney Zentz here, the founder of Tiny Transitions and the Kids Sleep Show. Welcome to this week’s episode. And I am so excited to be joined by Ms. Alina Furman, the founder and CEO of Call Me. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks so much for having me, Courtney. I’m so excited. Tell me a little bit about Call Me. Who is it for those folks that are either watching or listening for the first time and don’t quite know much about the world of massage yet? So tell us a little bit about yourself. Yeah, so I am started out as a big mom, of course, that’s how we’re always born, you know, in a new way as parents. And everything we are interested in changes, right. And I became a baby product expert along the way and was doing a lot of marketing and somehow at some point, I stumbled upon baby massage because my son My oldest son had anxiety and he had colic when he was younger. And I just had a super hard time with the whole first time mom thing because I had all the postpartum issues and it was super hard. And I, that’s why I kind of went into product, baby products, because I wanted to find solutions for parents that would make their lives a little easier. So when I stumbled upon baby massage, I realized. you know, so many people all over the world have been doing baby massage for centuries in India, China, Africa, the Caribbean, but in the U S in the West, um, we just did, had no real understanding or knowledge and we just weren’t as aware of all the benefits. So I became a certified infant massage instructor and I used it a lot with my son. for his anxiety, you know, even as he got older. And I just became so passionate. And then I decided to create a business called Call Me based all around baby massage and we’re the first baby massage brand and baby massager. I love it. And I’m so excited for those of you watching on YouTube. I have one here we’re going to talk about in a little bit. But I mean, I think first and foremost, I appreciate you mentioning the postpartum because I, much like you, was not in love with parenting. And so I wanna make sure that anybody who is listening and watching realizes that you’re not alone, right? Cause you might be in the same spot we were when we had our kids. Now, ours are older now, right? We’ve been doing this a while, but I think there’s this taboo talking about like, oh, I had postpartum anxiety and depression. I didn’t even know I had it when I brought my son home and my husband didn’t recognize it. I hid it. you know, and I hit it on the inside, but I like wouldn’t go in our kitchen all day because I was afraid I’d grab a knife like eight hours wouldn’t step out. Like just this crazy stuff where you’re like, where is the real that happens? And it’s hormones. It’s also hormones. So it’s not like people shouldn’t feel bad about it because, you know, one minute you have your whole life, you have your schedule set. And the next day you go home and you have one. You haven’t slept. Your hormones are the craziest. You know, they’ve ever been. They said this like the biggest drop in hormones. is in pregnancy and you have no control over your schedule or your life anymore. So like that, if that’s not a recipe for cuckoo, you know, yeah, no, I’m a type a person too. So I’m like, okay, this is new, you know, every day is a dumpster fire. So I just wanted to say thank you for saying that because I think people listening might feel a little embarrassed or shy to talk about it. Like, don’t be like we had it. We’re doing all right now, but you just have to recognize it and kind of work through it and know that it does get better. And there’s people that can help. And sometimes things like infant massage can be a positive channel into bonding with your child, and soothing for you. So I wanna talk a little bit about that. You’ve been in the space of infant massage as the expert for many years now, and you see the success. You see it with your private clients, you see it in the work you do device. Talk to me a little bit about massage, right? Like I was just telling you before we got started, I give my older kids, there’s seven and nine massages every night before bed. They love it, they pray, they do their back rubs and then they pass out, right? Massage is this immediate bonding, but there’s so much that’s happening when you are massaging a body. So talk a little bit about it for people who are like, I didn’t know you could do massage on a baby. Yeah. So I mean, absolutely. like people ask me, when should I stop massaging my baby? And I’m like, well, you should not stop ever. And I would like a massage too, if you’re up for it. Once a month I go, man, once a month. Every time I go, I need a massage. Yeah, I’m going tomorrow, I’m going tomorrow. I need that, yeah. And so there’s a lot of science now behind baby massage. And we understand a lot of what’s happening underneath the surface, because touch and skin are our biggest, touch is our first sense, and skin is our largest organ. When babies are born, they don’t communicate with us outside of touch or that sensory feeling of being attached to us. That’s why we talk about skin to skin and baby wearing became so big about 20 years ago. And so now baby massage is kind of where baby wearing was 20 years ago in terms of awareness. So skin to skin is so important because what happens is that we babies are born with. you know, millions and millions of neurons in their brain. And what happens when we touch and massage and connect with them, all those pathways, neural pathways are formed. So the studies have shown that whether it’s a preemie baby in the hospital, they are more likely to be released earlier from the hospital, baby brain development. So you’re making, the babies are making all these connections in their brain and those synapses are forming. And they did studies about learning and focus seeing where baby’s attention is going, and that’s all the building blocks of early cognition and development. And they saw that not only did it have immediate boost in their IQ in the moment, it had long-term boosts as they grew older. And so, and again, for sleep, for any type of self-regulation, because it’s so important, I mean, sleep, you are the expert, sleep is not a nice to have. Right? I mean, so much happens when we sleep. So with baby massage, you’re helping your baby regulate their circadian rhythms. You’re helping them produce more melatonin naturally, you know? And so there are so many benefits that it’s just, and studies that have shown that, you know, babies who are massaged regularly are just more calm. They have less constipation, less gas. Their cortisol levels are lower. of oxytocin is released. Now, not only for the baby, so that’s what we’re talking about. When you have, that’s why I wish I knew baby massage because I really think a lot of my postpartum issues would have been much, they found that they did alleviate a lot of postpartum issues. And I wish I had been taught at the hospital because it does release oxytocin in the parent, it increases competence. And I know I did not. feel competent as a new mom, and it increases your bond in connection with your baby. And that’s something that’s formed over time, but if you can accelerate that, why wouldn’t you? Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think you brought up a point around the sensory input, right? Kids are sensory seeking, right? And I think you hear that term sensory, and there’s different immediate connotations, right? We all have sensory input. sensory stimulation, sensory thresholds, all of us. Like me, I could drag my nails on a chalkboard, Alina, doesn’t bother me at all, right? My husband would pee his pants. You know what I mean? So I think when you have this type of, like some people wanna be touched, sometimes they don’t touch, sometimes they don’t. And I think with massage, what’s cool is it is something to your point that can become a source of like this calming, right? From that, continued nine years later, I still do it with my kids, right? Sense of calm. And I think to your point on the gas, a lot of the sleep coaching clients that we work with here, they’re babies, right? They’re young babies. And we do a lot with new parent sleep coaching, infant sleep coaching, all the way up, right? And with infants, we’re not sleep training a newborn. That’s ridiculous. But it’s helping a parent to understand, because you are at the hospital, and you come home with this baby, and you go, well, Now what? Right? Like, what am I supposed to do with this? You have no idea what you’re doing. So I think teaching the infant massage just in the sense of calming and connection. Yeah. Well, so gas, you touched on it. Every baby we work with has either colic or reflux. Digestive systems are immature. So babies can’t cough, for instance, because they’re, they, those muscles are just not developed. Babies can’t. poop a lot of times because those muscles are not developed and passing gas. So those are very immature systems. And until they regulate it like four or five, six months, those are the hardest times when your baby is suffering. So massage can really allow you to nurture your baby and help them with all these little ailments naturally without having to resort to even reflux. They found that it does help with reflux because of the vagus nerve and And so it just my whole like, it just your mind gets blown when you realize how impactful baby massage can be. And then again, it’s also teaches the parent about how to, what is my, like you said, it teaches you to pay attention to your baby in a way that nothing else would because they’re not always gonna love the same massage. They’re not always gonna love you to touch them and on their foot that day or their tummy that day. And so you just giving your baby that undivided attention in a focused way just connects and bonds you and teaches you about each other in a way that you would never learn because we’re so distracted. We’re just always, what should I do with my baby? Or like, what do we do now? Like it’s, you know, those are really half times when you’re just trying to get to know each other. Yeah, and I tell you the one massage which I’ll let you explain what it is cause I won’t do it justice. I just know how to do it. that I used almost like as a go-to with my infant was the I Love You massage. Like, you can guess, let’s get the, I used olive oil as a barrier, all the time you know. But what is an I Love You massage? Yes, so the I Love You massage, and I know that people can’t see it, and you know, who are not on their YouTube, but- Gives them a reason to go out to YouTube if you’re just listening to the podcast. Exactly, exactly. Go to YouTube and watch the massage. So- The I Love You Massage follows a digestive tract. And so it’s just three letters, I, L, U, and you wanna start tracing. You always wanna kind of have like three or two fingers and you wanna apply medium pressure. On the baby’s left side, you wanna trace the eye down the left side. And again, that helps pull all the… bowel movement and fluids down. And then you want to go, you want to do an upside down L starting at the top of their belly and the side towards the rib cage. And you want to pull across to the left side and then you go down. So you’re going to make a L here and then you’re going to do an upside down U again starting on the left, sorry, baby’s right side going to their left because usually and if you’re doing baby massage circles and you’re getting the gas that you always want to start right and to left and maybe for counterclockwise, I mean for clockwise, not counterclockwise, because that follows the direction of their abdominal tract. And what ends up happening for those of you that might be listening or trying is the gas gets out because you’re basically pushing it through the digestive system. So it’s a really cool way to also provide the calm but also alleviate the discomfort without just, you know, slamming more Milicon in. I loved colic calm drops when I had my son. They’re like a homeopathic lifeguard, but I have to say they all serve a purpose, but I, you know, as a parent, I didn’t want to be like dumping a gallon of. Yeah, I know you’re like take more. No, you don’t know. You don’t know how much. Yeah. And it’s just, and it also gives you what’s interesting. Like when babies have colds and it builds their immunity as well. I don’t know if I mentioned that, but when they have colds or they have gas and they’re crying. You know, we as parents feel so kind of helpless a lot of the time. And so I just find that massage kind of empowers parents because all of a sudden you have a technique and you know, okay, maybe it didn’t work that day or it didn’t cure the issue right off the bat, but consistently doing massage and the cumulative benefits of that really empowers parents because we feel so out of control and it’s type A people that. you know, we tend to be. It’s nice to feel like you have something you can control. Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think giving parents that like that piece of something is so crucial during those first weeks. But especially as your confidence is growing, you’re like, okay, I got this, you know, my first time I was a total dumpster fire. And then by my second, I was like, okay, I got like, I, you know, I know what we’re doing. And then we ended up selling, I like packed our whole house in two days. Because my husband’s like we can’t put our house on we can’t buy house till we put our house on the market and he came home one day to a pod being delivered and half the house packed and I was like newborn sleep all day so I just like you know did our thing. Oh my gosh, I think he’s going to be more careful. What he I know and at least we’re done with babies now. So, you know, yeah that but you know, it’s just a cool powerful thing and I think for you your journey has been so neat right you started. becoming a massage therapist, right? You’re doing the infant massage, and then you saw a gap in the market, right? For two different things. One, I wanna talk about the wand, and I wanna talk also about the call me card. So why don’t we kind of transition over there? Like, what gave you the idea for a device? Yeah, so as a product marketer, I’ve always kind of, you know, one, it’s like, products are so hard, you know, and developing your own product is expensive and it’s, we’ve all seen it. It’s just a really grueling process. But so I thought about it, I said, do I want to just do education or do I want to do a device? And so for me, it was super important in the end, I decided that I did want to do a device because for many reasons. One, with, I never wanted people to think that this replaces hands. Like skin to skin is so important. But I wanted to create the Calm Me Massager for many reasons because one, it serves as a reminder to do massage daily. It’s a physical tool. That way you are reminded every day because all of baby massage is cumulative. Like if you do it every day, every other day, that’s where the real benefits come in. Two, I wanted to have the vibrations because sometimes you want to soothe your baby immediately and have that impact on the go. So, you know, I love that you can take it places with you and the gentle vibrations, I call it a little bit of a tantrum tamer on the go because you just hand it to your baby and they relax, which is really nice. And then I also wanted the vibrations because it really soothes babies, just calms their nervous system. And again, it’s an enhancement tool, it’s completely safe, edible grade. And the other part, they love teething on it and we’re putting out a massage head, teething head on it because- babies look as soon as you give it to them, they just stick it in their mouth because the sensation on their gums of the vibration, there’s never been a vibrating teether before. So we’re putting out a teether attachment and it’s gonna be great because they can just directly teether it. And so it was important for me to combine education with a physical product just because I really, oh, and it distracts your baby while you’re massaging because one of the toughest things about baby massage and what everyone asks me about how do I massage my baby who’s super active? So as they get older, it’s much harder to keep them in one place. So this is another tool. So if you’re giving it to them, then all of a sudden now you’re massaging with your hands and they’re massaging themselves. And it’s like, they’re learning early self-care and you can’t start early enough, right? Well, I think you mentioned something good, right? I would leave church on Sundays with my son and I would be like, stay awake. You know what I mean? Like anything I could. And something like this for the just mile drive home, which he would inevitably fall asleep after mass on Sunday is so cool. You know what I mean? And I think it’s a quick thing you can throw in your purse too to be like, here, calm down, here. Yes, we’re going to Target. But I think that’s awesome. And I have to say, so I am a big mantra and meditation person. My son, You know, like any kid is nine and he’s starting to feel some of those like outside stressors. And, you know, we were talking the day he came home and he’s like, I didn’t do so good on my one test. I’m like, buddy, like I got an 8% on my Algebra 2 final. I’m doing all, you know, like, and I think that made him feel better because I wasn’t, you know, in the, in the book smarts. My brother got the book smarts. I got the people smarts. But these cards that you made, I love for two reasons. One, every night we say a meditation or a mantra. And we say our prayers, right? But each card has a massage. So I have to just take a minute to show you guys how beautiful these are for those of you that are watching. And if you’re not, go out to the YouTube channel. But the call me cards, like what made you come up with this idea? Cause you could have easily just been like 52 massages, one new one each day, but the incorporation of mom, right? So this one is the future is not certain, but my love is. How beautiful. And then on the back, so let me show you, is the massage. So talk about… Why the cards? So yeah, so I’m also very big in meditation and we do our little mantras at night. If they’re having a hard time sleeping, we all, I play them all the affirmation meditations. And as a mom, we… Again, I believe that the relationship between mom and baby is completely symbiotic. Like if you’re stressed, calm mom, calm baby, right? If you’re stressed, be a mom, stress baby and vice versa. So you can be the most calm person, but then after a while, if you’re not prepared and your baby’s cascolic or crying, you’re going to become a basket case and then it’s going to become a loop. So the most important thing about baby massage is and child massage, you have to check in with yourself first. because all our energy and they just sponge it all up, they just absorb all our energy, especially as you’re massaging them because we’re giving them all our energy. So when I was developing the Colomy cards and I wanted to develop them because I really, education is still like the forefront of our brand. And I really wanted to maintain this so people can learn massage quickly and not be intimidated by it. And so I did 52 massage jokes divided by different categories, sleep, immunity, and so on. And on the other side is that mantra because it’s so important to take a moment for yourself every day and just simply remind yourself that you are going through one of the most, you know, revolutionary times of your life. And just give yourself like grace, forgiveness. Just really understand whatever you’re going through. Millions have gone through it. Maybe they didn’t talk about it. but they went through it. And just to find that peace within yourself and then you can bond with your baby and just take that moment for yourself every day. Yeah, no, totally. I, for my son, with his going to bed in the monitors as he’s getting older, I take painter’s tape now and I just buy the blue painter’s tape, it’s in the garage and I write notes. My daughter sleeps in the bunk. They have their own rooms, but since, you know, they, during the pandemic, they decided to stay together. So my son’s on a bunk bed. Right, and so I take a note and I say, don’t forget you’re a good kid. So that every night when he goes to sleep, he can, may have had a rough day. He may not have felt great about his test or he missed a test. Oh, that’s great. And so when he’s falling asleep, he’s staring at what he can now read is, don’t forget you’re a good kid. And then with my daughter, cause she’s like down on the trundle bed, I do it over on the side. And I say that to my kids all the time. And it’s a mantra and it’s the same one, but I wasn’t. Remember that, like despite the fact that you might have had a bad day or you did something wrong or you raised your voice or you know, whatever, you’re just feeling like ultimately deep down, you’re a good kid. And I think that starts to your point with that energy that is pushing to a child. And then it sticks with kids for a long time. Like my mom is deceased and I miss her dearly. She’s been gone almost 20 years, but I, there are lessons when I was very young that I have held with me my whole life. And I’m like, wow. I was like five when I remember that or 10, like conversations or lessons, you know, and I just wanna do like- Kids matters, yeah. And they remember it. It’s true, they do. They’ll remember it. That’s the first imprint that you’re setting for them. And that will follow them throughout their whole lives. And that’s amazing you do that. I love that trick, I’m gonna steal it. That’s fun, we do that. And then another trick, just cause you’re gonna steal it and your kids are getting older too, at dinner. We do three awesomes, one not awesome. And then you’re not allowed to say like more than one not awesome and you’re not allowed to say more than three awesomes. So we’ve been doing that like two years now. And it is kind of interesting sometimes what they perceive as awesome and not awesome. Yeah, it’s so important to make those times, especially as they get older. Yeah. Well things, but you know, back to the massage, like where are you at now? Right? So you’ve got a device, you’ve got a website, you’ve got Instagram, which is actually how I found you many months ago. And then you know, we got connected and I’m so excited to have you on the show. Yeah. So it’s super exciting. We have new products coming out. We just could release the organic massage oil and that was super important for me to we’re going to be releasing yes, more massage oils as we go at all natural. and made in the USA. And then we also have other collections and I’m just, I’m really excited to start the courses and I will get to it as you know, I will hopefully not when my kids are in college because it’s, it just feels like everything takes a million years to finish. But I definitely have a lot of people asking me for baby massage courses, virtual courses. So I’m really excited to get that started. Oh, that’s so good. I’m so excited. I know. Obviously people can find you out on Instagram and out on your website. If you wanna tell them a little bit more about that and all the great places they can purchase the Call Me device. Yeah, so you can purchase the Call Me now actually on Amazon too. It’s K-A-H-L-M-I dot com and you can buy it online or on Amazon. And on Instagram, I’m at getcallme. and you can just always log on and I have different tutorials I do and you can learn basically all the different massages through all my videos, but I wanna do definitely more comprehensive courses. Yeah, I love it. Like I said, I followed you for months, if not years at this point now, before we got connected. I’m like, I wanna follow her, you know? I love the stuff she puts out. So it’s just so beautiful, I think providing the education because that’s the thing that most people don’t get. Like you get the funny reels and you get the… I’ll do this or things that trend differently. I’m all about education. I want every person in the world to get access to quality sleep education through a platform that is accurate, evidence-based. And I think you have a similar, which is probably why we gel so well, right? We’re both Taipei, but it’s education. You can have such a beautiful day, right? Not every day is gonna be beautiful, but you can have such a beautiful day with just this education that you didn’t have. that you slowly start to implement these little changes and to your point with consistency, those changes compound and make things a bit more manageable for everybody. Yeah, no, it’s so, and again, speaking of education, our big goal is eventually to have baby massage programs at hospitals, at every maternity ward. So new moms are getting that education right from the start, from the get-go and working in shelters with disadvantaged communities because actually studies have shown that the intervention reduces incidents of child abuse. So it’s so important, especially in vulnerable, at-risk communities to really get in there and to teach them those basic skills. And I think hands can do a beautiful thing, right? So- Exactly. Yeah, and that’s all you need. You don’t need anything except your hands. So that’s why- You know, again, it’s not a replacement and it’s important just if you just can go and look and learn, you can learn in five minutes just by watching my videos. And they are wonderful videos. So I’ll make sure they’re in the show notes. I thank you so much, Alina, for coming. I’m excited to share everything and I’m excited to watch you continue to shine. Thank you so much for listening, everybody. You’re catching us over on the various social media outlets that we are, but Alina is lovely and I’m excited to continue to. For this conversation, we’ve got lots of good stuff coming up in the next couple of weeks and months together, and I look forward to it, so thank you. Me too, it’s a pleasure. Thanks so much. Thank you.