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Benefits of baby massage
About baby massage
Many cultures have used massage as part of baby care for hundreds of years, and research shows it can have many benefits. Massage enables you to learn about and respond to your baby's body language. It is also a wonderful way to make your baby feel safe and secure by showing that he or she is loved and cared for. There is no set way to massage your baby - provided you know how to do it safely, you and your baby will discover what's best for you both. It is important to remember, however, that massage is something you do with, rather than to your baby. It is recommended that you learn from someone with a qualification in baby massage, or from a midwife or health visitor, to ensure you are doing it safely.
A ten minute massage, two or three times a week helps make a more confident mother-infant relationship, babies love it and it can help alleviate baby ailments too. You will probably ask yourself, do babies actually need massage? Surely they are supple, relaxed and do not seem to face the stresses that make us knotted and tense. Lorraine Tolley of The Guild of Infant & Child Massage explains that not every baby knows how to relax: "Many babies are fussy, disorganised and have colic, cry a lot or sleep poorly. Massage can help with all these problems."
Massage can begin from the day the baby is born, but many parents start later having been taught by health professionals or having been on a course
Massage is an excellent way of connecting with your baby if you are a working mum. A short massage each night before bath time can help your baby feel loved
Massage can alleviate trapped wind, soothe colic or alleviate constipation
Massaging the jaw can relax a baby who has just begun to take solids
Massaging the gums through the skin may ease the pain of teething
A face massage can unblock baby's blocked nose
Massage can alleviate the effects of postnatal depression and help mother have a more positive interaction with their baby
The benefits of infant massage for your child
Smoothes transition from womb to the world
Develops baby's first language: touch
Teaches positive loving touch
Develops a feeling of being loved, respected and secure
Develops body, mind, awareness and coordination
Can help to reduce the discomfort of colic, wind and constipation
Helps to regulate and strengthen baby's digestive and respiratory systems and stimulate circulatory and nervous systems
Can help to reduce 'fussiness' and improve quality of sleep
Improves skin condition
The benefits of infant massage for parents
Helps parent to understand baby's non-verbal communication
Enhances parent's confidence and competence in dealing with baby
Can help with postnatal depression
Both parents and baby relax together
Promotes lactation in breastfeeding mums (through stimulation of hormones)
Promotes nurturing instinct (through stimulation of hormone oxytocin)
Bonding and massage
Many parents have hectic lifestyles, juggling a host of responsibilities and activities, and many new mothers have the
added stress of having to return to work due to financial commitments. Quality time with children can often be affected
because of this and infant massage, an age old tradition, is simple, free, can be administered almost anywhere and has a
host of emotional and physical benefits for both parents and baby.
In her book The Power of Touch, Phyllis K Davies provocatively states that 'Touch is not a pleasant stimulus, but a biological
necessity'. Certainly Bernard Brazelton, child psychologist, believes that touch is central to the development of the bonding
relationship between mother and infant. Infant massage is a form of positive touch and therefore without doubt, an extremely
important form of communication between parent and baby and helps with the attachment and bonding process.
Infant massage should be a pleasant experience for both the mother and the infant, and whilst it does not always come
naturally to mothers/parents, it is not difficult and it can be learned from others practicing or from specially designed
infant massage Classes. The aim of such classes is to teach basic, safe strokes to parents whilst building their confidence
in touching their babies - thus empowering parents. Through massage parents can learn how their babies communicate with them
by understanding their baby's positive and negative cues; promoting understanding and a mutual respect for one another.
The classes can also serve to help parents understand about over-stimulation of the baby and why babies cry and use
self-calming techniques. Infant-massage also offers an opportunity for positive touch and early play, including music and
rhymes in the infant massage classes. Studies have shown that using nursery rhymes can be a wonderful learning tool and can
even enhance brain development of the child and in addition studies have shown that positive touch with infants leads to
healthy physical and brain development
Strong attachment can develop a sense of security in a child and the child is more likely to grow up more self-assured and
self-confident. As attachment is founded in the very early months, by its very definition Infant Massage has a profound
effect on the emotional well-being of the infant and can be used to achieve a sense of security for the growing child.
The emotional benefits of infant massage, such as quality, one-to-one loving touch, can also be experienced by fathers.
It is important to involve older children too. Sibling rivalry can be a real issue when a new baby joins the family;
involving the older child in the massage routine can help with feelings of resentment, perhaps massaging their teddy
alongside or just holding the oil bottle!