Baby massage: good for you, good for baby!
Do you know that massaging your baby is as good for you, as well as your baby? You may have heard the many reasons why you should practice infant massage because it’s good for your baby and they are probably all true. But it is good for you too.
How? Well, infant massage helps you to bond with your baby – it’s not just for mums, it also gives dads a positive way to interact with their infant. Bonding is important because it ensures a healthy interaction between your baby and you, its parents, bringing an important synchrony with each other. The important elements that help form the bond between parent and baby include eye-to-eye contact, touch, voice, smell and thermal regulation. Maternal and paternal hormones are activated by contact with the baby.
A regular massage with your baby can help you to feel more confident in looking after your children, increasing your self-esteem by reinforcing and enhancing your skills as parents.
You will get to learn more about your baby as you begin to recognise their communication cues; they will tell you which elements of the massage they love, or indicate that perhaps they’re not in the mood for a massage. This pre-verbal communication gives you the tools for understanding your child’s unique rhythms and patterns so you can recognise their states of awareness.
If you go out to work, massaging your baby can help to ease your stress and to reconnect with each other after an extended period away during the day. The act of massaging will help you, as well as baby, to unwind and relax.
Studies from around the world have shown that infant massage reduces post-natal depression and can improve mother/baby relationships. You can read more about this here.
Massaging your baby helps if they suffer from wind, colic, constipation and when they have a blocked nose. You can use exactly the same movements on yourself if you ever suffer from any of these complaints.
Trapped wind? Use the sun and moon movements on your tummy. Constipation? Backward thumb walking over the intestinal area often helps. Sinusitis? Massage up the sides of your nose with your thumbs.
All of the above do, of course, have massive benefits for your baby. By regularly practicing baby massage, you will help your little one to feel securely attached, more loved, valued and respected; this is something that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Vimala McClure, the founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, writes in her book ‘Infant Massage: a handbook for loving parents’ (2005): “People whose infancy was secure, who were held and listened to, who had good eye contact with their parents and who were generally cherished tend to have healthier relationships with others.”