What is Baby Massage?
Baby massage is an old tradition which can give a baby the best possible start in life. The benefits of baby massage are significant for both parent and baby. It supports bonding and happiness, feeling secure and early communication between parent and baby.
A daily massage provides a perfect opportunity to meet your baby’s needs through skin-to-skin contact. Regular massage can aid relaxation and improve sleeping. It also promotes a healthy development, leaving you and your baby feeling happy and connected.
Baby massage involves parents learning a series of massage strokes and techniques in order to enhance their babies development. Nurturing touch supports the parent-baby relationship.
Baby massage is also known as infant massage and the practice is described as an ancient art that connects you deeply with your baby. It has been around for centuries in many cultures. Massage is a technique used to stimulate skin contact and manipulating various parts of the body for the purposes of relaxation. Gentle touching improves the function of the sustaining systems (respiratory, circulatory, digestive, nervous and endocrine).
Baby massage is used to touch and stimulate the baby’s skin and muscles in order to promote relaxation. Numerous studies reveal that there are many benefits of baby massage which include; more consistent sleep patterns, improved circulation and digestion and less fussiness. Some experts believe regular baby massage promotes an earlier self awareness in a child, which may aid better self esteem later in life. Parents can also benefit from baby massage as they experience a similar amount of relaxation while massaging their babies. Research has show that parents are more confident in parenting, a stronger parent-child bond is formed, and longer periods of quiet contentment are noticed in the home.
The art of baby massage is made easier for both parent and child when proper training has been received. Though it may seem a bit intimidating, infant massage can be learned very easily through instructional videos, books, or one-on-one training with a certified teacher.
In India baby massage has been practiced for centuries, most days mothers will massage the family. These techniques are passed on to her daughters, who will in turn pass it on to her children. Vimala McClure worked in an orphanage in India in 1973 and became aware of the importance of this soothing touch in their culture. “A young mother sat in the dirt with her baby across her knees, lovingly massaging her baby and singing. As I watched her, I thought there is so much more to life than material wealth; she had so little, yet she could offer her baby this beautiful gift of love and security, a gift that would help to make him a compassionate human being.”
Her interest was sparked and she brought baby massage into our country but combined it with methods from other counties, including Sweden.
When a baby is relaxes, the parent will be more relaxed. This can create a positive effect throughout the family. To have eye contact and face to face contact with a baby, forms a powerful communication systems between the parent and the infant and it encourages the baby’s early language development.
According to research, touch is the earliest developed biological sense. This develops in the womb and is with up up to the end of life. Infants explore the world through touch.
Different strokes are used for the different areas of a baby. To relax a baby, a light massage on the back or legs will relax him/her. Stroking the stomach area, can help with digestion and help with colic, wind and constipation. The circulatory system can be stimulated through massage as the blood is circulated through the body quicker, providing nutrients to the organs and muscles and improves absorption. This can even help with weight gain.
Additional Reading: McClure, V. (2000): Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents. London. Souvernir Press.