The Calming Benefits of Infant Massage
Whether it’s to soothe your little one to dreamland or to ease his gassy belly, a gentle massage can work wonders for your baby — and the power is in your tender touch.
Daily infant massage is a great way to bond with baby. Babies find a gentle massage very relaxing — even therapeutic. That’s because, of the five senses, touch is the one that’s most developed at birth, and there’s research to suggest that infant massage has enormous benefits for helping babies grow and thrive, promotes better sleeping, relieves colic, and perhaps even enhancing Baby’s immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development.
Infant massage is a bonding activity between parents and their children. In the most basic terms, infant refers to the process of stroking the muscles of an infant using a variety of specialized massage techniques. Vocalization, eye-to-eye contact, and other positive behavioral reinforcements are also important components of the massage.
Ancient Art of Infant Massage
Mothers have been practicing the art of infant massage for centuries. Based on this historical fact, it is very clear that all babies should be massaged, touched and loved to promote their social-emotional-cognitive and physical development.
“Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant; food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins” ~ Frederick Leboyer
Dr. Frederick Leboyer, M.D., was the first physician to challenge Western society’s deeply held beliefs about awareness in the newborn. He was one of the first doctors to record the ancient art of baby massage. His Book Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage was first published in 1976 from his trip to Calcutta and gives us a good example of this ancient parenting tradition. From the creation of his book, infant massage began to spread across the world, becoming more embraced by a wide variety of professionals who are incorporating it into their practices to help families cope with children with special needs as well as healthy full term newborns. Techniques are simple and effective and are most likely performed by parents and primary caregivers who have been taught by certified infant massage instructors. The approach is empowering and improves the parent-infant attachment process.
How can infant massage benefit your little one?
- Provides a special time of communication that fosters love, compassion, and respect
- Improves general well-being
- Improves overall functioning of the gastrointestinal tract
- Promotes relaxation and helps babies self-regulate calm, which reduces crying
- Helps to normalize muscle tone
- Improves circulation
- Enhances immune system function
- Improves midline orientation
- Helps to improve sensory and body awareness
- Enhances neurological development
- Helps baby/child to sleep deeper and more soundly
- Helps to increase oxygen and nutrient flow to cells. Improves respiration
- Helps to improve pain management; can relieve discomfort from teething
- Helps with congestion, gas, and colic
- Enhances release of hormones in the body. The growth hormone can be stimulated which helps weight gain.
- Reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
- Provides all of the essential indicators of intimate parent-infant bonding and attachment: eye-to-eye, touch, voice, smell, movement, and thermal regulation.
- Stimulates all of the physiological systems. Massage sparks the neurons in their brains to grow and branch out to encompass other neurons.
How can infant massage benefit you the parent or Caregiver?
- Encourages pre-verbal communication between caregiver and infant
- Helps parents feel more confident and competent in caring for their children
- Helps parents to ease their stress if they are a working parent and must be separated from their children for extended periods during the day
- Provides parents with one-on-one quiet time or interactive play with their children
- Creates a regular time of intimacy between parent and child.
- Increases parents’ self-esteem by reinforcing and enhancing their skills as parents, and validates their role
- Gives parents the tools for understanding their child’s unique rhythms and patterns
- Teaches parents how to read their infants’ cues and recognize their states of awareness
- Gives parents a special way to interact with their children who may be hospitalized. Helps parents feel a greater part of the healing process
- Daily massage helps parents to unwind and relax
- Provides a positive way for fathers to interact with their infants/children
You can start with gentle massages the day you bring your baby home, most babies will tolerate a routine from 3-4 weeks and be loving it by 6-8 weeks. You can encourage your partner to try his hand at infant massage — a good opportunity for dad-and-baby bonding.
Join me for a class where I will present to you all the techniques and tips of how to massage your baby. Classes are kept to a maximum number, for personal attention. You get to meet other like-minded Moms and catch up with parenting skills. My classes are baby friendly!
R150 per class for Mom/ Dad and Baby.
You will learn:
- To make infant massage part of your daily routine.
- Which massage oil to use
- Where to do it
- How to follow your baby’s cues.
- Techniques that are gentle
- And much more…..