More than just a massage
Touch is your baby’s first universal language. It is their prime means of communication and plays an essential role in the forming of parent-baby relationships, so I spoke to developmental baby massage teacher Chloe to get the low down on this simple yet effective bonding experience.
When you massage your child, it allows your little one to express emotional affection and fulfil your baby’s overwhelming need for physical contact. After 9 months in their heavenly home, where it’s always warm, cosy and comforting, this loud, bright, crazy world can really rock them. Using touch to make them feel loved, cherished and secure is key.
Through a parents’ loving touch, babies receive so many physical and emotional benefits, which leads to your baby achieving all round wellbeing. They relax and gain confidence and closeness with the parents and, as they develop, they lose the 'physiological flexion' imposed by their position in the womb and start to gain a fuller range of movement. There are huge benefits for the parent too. Baby massage encourages loving attachment, bonding, secure and confident holding and handling and allows communication to be built.
When adults feel fear, fall in love, get angry or excited, we feel the response in our bellies. It is the same for your baby. With every emotional change there is a muscular reaction. When you ease muscular tension, baby massage calms the emotions and helps to relieve some of the trauma and anxiety associated with birth, a new environment and development.
Developmental baby massage is highly therapeutic: both preventative and curative, it offers a form of immediate and convenient treatment. It can be used to alleviate stiff or floppy joints, wind, colic, constipation and other minor ailments, as well as bring an element of relief and assistance to any child, particularly for children with additional needs. It introduces a unique level of confidence and trust in your relationship with your baby, allows fathers, partners and other care givers to come into the fold and be more in touch with their little ones and strengthen their own unique bonds.
Wider benefits for your baby:
- Reduces the circulation of cortisol-the stress hormone into the bloodstream-if done regularly.
- Stimulates the body’s natural opiates (endorphins) which subdues pain.
- Promotes secure attachment and bonding. as you massage your baby, you also maintain eye contact, kiss, caress and vocalise, which encourages closeness.
- To check your baby's muscle tone and to check, build and encourage the flexibility of your baby's major joints before they strengthen.
- Improves circulation.
- To introduce and encourage safe, awake and enjoyable tummy time.
- To provide a firm foundation for sitting and standing.
- To ensure a balanced body with a wide range of flexible coordinate movement.
- To determine 'touch reception' and detect any area of the baby’s body that is touch resistant, painful, still or uncomfortable.
- To relieve tension in the baby’s belly.
- To help soothe a fractious baby.
- Promotes the flow of waste removing lymphatic fluid which improves the baby’s resistance to infection.
- Helps to cleanse you baby’s skin. Massage opens the pores and encourages the elimination of toxins.
- To help improve relaxation, sleep and their disposition.
When you give your baby a massage it's all about being in the 'here and now' together: coming out of your head and focusing all your time, energy and love into this moment with your precious child. Having some quality one-to-one time, using loving touch and therapeutic play to have fun time together. Being fully present in the moment. Whether your massaging for a few minutes throughout the day, or using a full massage routine regularly, every touch, every kiss, every loving hold sparks new connections in the baby’s brain and leads to a happier, healthier child who will thrive.
Thank you Chloe. Chloe is a developmental baby massage teacher and part of the Do It Like A Mother team www.doitlikeamother.co.uk