When your baby was born, one of the first things you did was to touch him. Perhaps he was born onto your stomach, or brought straight into your arms. Even if he was whisked off for tests or to Special Care, you probably stole a few precious seconds to stroke his face, or hold his fingers.
Touch is an instinctive form of communication between you and your baby from the moment he is born, and continues throughout childhood and into adulthood. When your toddler is sleepy he’ll cuddle up to you, when your child falls and hurts himself, you ‘rub it better’, and no matter what their age, a hug is always welcome (yes, even with teenagers!)
Baby massage builds on the human need for touch, and numerous studies have proven the benefits to both mother and child, psychologically, emotionally, developmentally and physiologically.
What is baby massage?
Baby massage is simply a method that helps to reinforce the natural power of touch. It is an ancient art that has been used in many diverse cultures to help with a variety of physical and emotional needs and to promote relaxation.
When you massage your baby, it helps you to understand his subtle non-verbal language and develop your ability to listen to him, laying down the foundations of trust and security which will help you to build a happy and confident relationship with your baby for the future.
Infant massage is beneficial for you and your baby in so many ways. Studies have shown how important touch is to your growing baby and its importance for you in helping build confidence and an understanding of the new special person in your life.
The main benefits can be summarised as;
- Relief for your baby – Baby massage can help to relieve a wide range of common aliments including trapped wind, constipation, colic, teething pain and sinus congestion. The use of oils on your baby’s skin can also help to improve the overall condition of his skin which can be particularly useful if your baby suffers from dry skin, eczema or cradle cap.
- Creating bonds between you and your baby – Bonding with your baby is a complex matter occurring over time through understanding and communication. Bonding is very important between a parent and baby to ensure the survival of the baby and the emotional state of the parent. Massage encourages bonding by creating the perfect environment for touch, eye contact, exchange of personal odours, and vocalisation with your baby.
- Relaxation for you both – Baby massage is fun. The exchange of smiles and eye contact during massage are important in building a relationship of love and trust between you. When you massage the skin, the body produces the hormones prolactin and oxytocin. These hormones help to lower the levels of stress hormones in your body and help combat the symptoms of stress. You will both experience the benefits of these hormones when you practise massage.