Baby Massage is Baby Led

Baby Massage classes are Baby Led.

But what does this actually mean?

When I visit schools teaching Peer Massage, I always ask the children who is the person they have to listen to most during each session.  “You!” they shout eagerly.  No, not me.  “Our teacher?” Now they are not so sure.  “Our partner” one child will venture an idea.  Exactly!  The children are being taught to massage their friend, to do something nice for peer, and they quickly get the idea that it’s important to listen to their partner’s direction when it comes to pressure, pace and type of massage.

Now parents and babies are just the same.  The baby is the person we need to listen to.  The baby is calling all the shots.  IAIM baby massage sessions always start with a three step permission sequence; baby’s permission is always sought before we start to massage them.  If baby says no, then we must respect that and try again later.  Sometimes, baby will lose interest during a massage and tell you s/he has had enough and we must listen to them.  Baby Massage is something parents and babies do together; not something the parent does to the baby.

A key component of the Infant Massage Program is guiding parents to ask permission of their baby.
Howard Steele, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Co-Director, Center for Attachment Research, New School for Social Research, Editor, Attachment & Human Development


During your massage sessions with your baby, you become familiarly with your baby’s non-verbal communication techniques and understand when baby is saying yes or no.  Perhaps your baby engages your eye contact, smiles at you and relaxes under your hands – that’s a yes to massage.  Maybe your baby gurns, whimpers or arches his/her back as ways of telling you that massage time is over.  Remember that massage can be both relaxing and stimulating for baby and every baby responds differently.

Now there is something slightly disappointing about turning up for a baby class (remembering all your paraphernalia and you are almost on time!) and then baby gives you a very clear signal that now is not the time for massage.  Meh.  You may as well have stayed home, in your PJs and watched the next box set episode.  Wrong!

I always have a spare dolly, so if your baby drifts off to sleep, you can practise with a demo doll.  Each class includes two separate massage sections and baby may be ready for massage later in the class.  You can relax, cuddle or feed your baby, and just listen and watch with the intention of trying the strokes later guided by your parent handbook.

Furthermore, there is always the chance to chat with the other new parents in the group.  So maybe you don’t practise the arm routine today, but you have just learned that you are not the only one struggling with endless night feeds or dreading the evening because baby cries.  There is so much more to a baby massage class than just baby massage!

Book now 🙂

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