What's the point of baby massage?
What is the actual point of baby massage? Is it to learn a routine that will help your baby to sleep or to stop crying?
I had a Google of this and found several videos which will ‘teach’ you how to massage your baby! Some of them even had step-by-step instructions!
One of the most important things for me that was missing was that the ‘parents’ massaging their babies on these instructional videos did not ask permission to massage the baby, there did not appear to be any eye contact with the baby (which is really important), nor were they talking or singing to their baby.
I’m a Certified Infant Massage Therapist (CIMI) and trained back in 2006 with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), essentially the gold standard in baby massage. The IAIM is endorsed by the Royal College of Midwives, Embody and the Complimentary Therapists’ Association.
A CIMI will teach you how to massage your baby - we begin with the legs and work up the body each week, introducing new massage techniques bit by bit so as not to over-stimulate your baby. But we don’t just teach you how to massage your baby - we teach you to respect your baby because we always ask permission before starting any part of the massage and we teach you how recognise your baby’s non-verbal communication cues.
We will teach you how to prepare your baby for massage and how to ask permission to massage them. Over time, your baby will recognise what you are preparing to do and they will learn to tell you if they don’t want a massage at that time. You’ll learn about behavioural states, the best oils to use, and when not to massage your baby.
There are so many more things that you will learn if you attend an IAIM baby massage course, not least making new mum friends.
No matter what you do, you cannot truly learn the benefits of massaging your baby from an online video or step by step instructions on a website. If you do go to a baby massage class and the teacher is not talking about emotional connection, communication cues and how massage helps your baby’s brain development, then they’ve completely missed the point!