When I ask parents what they hope to achieve through learning baby massage, the three most frequent answers are…
• to spend some special time with baby, both in a class and at home
• to learn how to ease baby’s tummy troubles
• to help baby sleep better
I can help with all of these! Yay!
Everyone is pretty familiar with the importance of skin to skin contact in the days after a baby is born. The benefits of skin to skin in the weeks and months and years to follow are just as great. Baby Massage is just that – skin on skin. Sometime, bonding with a new baby takes time especially if Mum is struggling for example with pnd. Baby massage can make a real difference. The time you spend massaging your baby is quality time for bonding, connecting and working on pre-language communication skills.
Tummy massage works! Make sure you’ve got some pre-wash stain remover at the ready! Many baby’s struggle with tummy discomfort – colic, wind, constipation, cramps…. It can be really frustrating not being able to help (calpol doesn’t work!) but a simple, regular tummy massage can really work. There’s even a specially designed routine for relieving colic. The time of massage can be important for relieving tummy pain too. And the same massage strokes work for older children too.
And that brings me on to sleep! Everyone is obsessed with sleep when there is a new baby about, be it a new parent desperately wishing for an extra 20 minutes or the playgroup discussions of baby’s sleep or the old lady in the street stopping to ask you about your baby’s sleep (why do they do that?). Can baby massage help? Well, the research links are more correlations than definite conclusions, but I do have rather a few anecdotes about baby massage improving sleep quality, predictability and duration. Its all about the oxytocin you see. This is the calm hormone that makes baby feel relaxed. And the best thing about oxytocin is that is travels in the air from baby to others nearby, causing them too to release oxytocin. So, even if baby massage doesn’t help your baby sleep, it will help you sleep!
Some of the other benefits of baby massage include…
- relieves pain from teething, ear ache, grow pains and muscular tension.
- relieves tension
- helps ease excess mucus
- can help babies who are hypersensitive or hyperactive
- can help soften skin and improve skin conditions like eczema
- boosts circulation
- improves immune system
- helps develop coordination and balance
- many advantages in terms of cognitive development such as language development
- stimulates connections between nerve cells
- promotes body and mind awareness
- growth and weight gain
- promotes muscular development and increases flexibility
- reduction in stress hormone
- reduces crying
- promotes secure attachment
- helps develop love, empathy, tolerance and respect
And that’s just the benefits for the baby!!
Parents who learn baby massage will find their own stress levels reduce and they can feel relaxed: parents sleep quality can improve too! Baby massage can help you develop a greater understanding of your baby and thus learn to better read your baby’s unique cues. Parent’s can feel more confident and their self esteem can improve – I’ve seen this develop in front of my eyes as a five week course progresses! Siblings can get involved with massaging the baby at home and of course they can rediscover their love of baby massage too when you massage them again alongside their baby sibling.
Have I convinced you yet? I personally swear by baby massage – my children have some sort of massage every night before bed. Join a class and discover all of this for yourself!