Touch is your baby's first language. Loving touch is a powerful way to bond with your baby and learning the art of baby massage offers your baby many health benefits.
The delightful Amy Booker is a mother of three and an expert in baby massage. We are excited to share this piece Amy has written for us on the power of touch through baby massage.
You can find out more about Amy through the link at the bottom of the blog.
Massage is a wonderful special gift you can share with your baby. An opportunity to slow down, connect in and create special memories together that will last a lifetime. Baby massage has so many well established physiological and psychological benefits for parents and babies.
Integrating massage into the parent/child relationship offers another way for you to get to know and understand your baby by picking up on their subtle non-verbal language. Ultimately, it gives you the means by which you become the expert on your own child and can therefore respond according to your baby's unique needs rather than get caught up in the should and should nots of parenting.
We as parents are babies' first teachers, they learn about feelings, emotions and social interactions from us. This gives us the most incredible opportunity to shape how our baby’s brain develops and how they perceive the world. The deep emotional bonds that are formed in the early years form the blueprint for all future relationships based on trust, security, comfort and support. This window of opportunity to help support a baby’s emotional development is vital in creating a secure child who is confident to go out and explore the world, interact with others knowing that they are loved.
Baby massage is an incredibly effective way to communicate with our babies the emotions of love, security, comfort and support by gentle, nurturing touch. There are a number of key factors that have been identified crucial in the ever-evolving bonding process: eye contact, sound of voice, smell, touch, oxytocin and prolactin. All of the above factors are present during a session of baby massage making it the perfect environment in which to encourage and continue bonding.
Massage can also bring relief to a number of conditions suffered by babies which can cause them to be uncomfortable during the first months of life and beyond such as wind, colic and constipation, teething and more. Massage helps to tone the digestive tract, expel wind from the body, break down large air bubbles and speed up the maturation of the nervous system thus, communication between the stomach and brain making digestion of food and elimination of waste more efficient. Baby massage also brings relief of teething pain by massaging the mouth and gums and ease colds and congestion by helping to drain the nasal passages of mucus.
Massage is very important for aiding relaxation and reducing stress both for parents and baby. Cortisol is responsible for helping to create many new nerve to brain connections and so it is important in creating intelligent and new responses to our environment but when cortisol levels are too high then the negative impacts of stress can be felt. When you massage a baby the baby’s body produces a hormone called oxytocin (the love hormone!) which helps to lower levels of stress, lower blood pressure, heart rate and improve appetite but its is not just effective in babies - it is also good for helping parents relax too! When a mother massages her baby she also produces prolactin and oxytocin which helps her to relax. Prolactin is an important hormone for women after birth as it builds up a milk supply in the breast tissue and therefore it can be particularly useful to have high levels in breastfeeding.
How to Massage your Baby
Massaging your baby is easy and should be done in the right mood, with love and care. Use this easy step by step baby massage guide to find your way of loving your baby through touch.
- Create a safe, warm environment, where your baby and you will feel comfortable.
- Massage with an organic, cold-pressed vegetable based oil. I recommend sesame seed or coconut oil.
- Start by using long, flowing strokes down your baby's body. Begin at the shoulders moving to their hands, then to their hips and feet. Keep in mind just how small they are and how much you love them as you do this.
- Repeat this a few times and move on to the tummy.
- When you massage the tummy make sure you always go in a clockwise or downwards motion. Don’t apply any deep pressure, this should just be a gentle stimulation of the skin.
- If your baby is windy, colicky or constipated, it might be a good idea to do a course to learn how to perform a specific massage + movements that will offer relief.
- Moving to the legs, gently cup the legs and pull your hands towards the feet. You can include the arms to keep baby warm.
- Next, focus on the hands and feet. Use your fingers to gently massage each finger and toe as well as the palm and heel.
- If your baby is comfortable lying on their tummy you can do a back massage. Again, gentle strokes down the back, over the buttocks to the feet. Do not apply any direct pressure on the spine.
- Finally, smile, talk and sing to your baby during massage time and maintain eye contact with your baby to solidify your bond and create special memories of #massagetime!
The DockATot provides the perfect space for your little one to relax while enjoying some beautiful bonding massages. Gorgeous little Lola can be seen in these images with Amy Booker in our DockATot Deluxe in Cloud Grey.
Find out more about Amy here!
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