Claire Currie also known as The Mum and Baby Expert, helps us understand the benefits of baby massage and why it can be beneficial to both you and your little one. Over to Claire...
For Baby and Me is the name of my business and it perfectly sums infant massage, because unlike other forms of massage, infant massage is for both you and your baby.
Touch is the most developed of the senses at birth and touching/ stroking babies is a programmed parental behaviour right from the moment of birth.
Therapeutic massage has been used for thousands of years and has been practiced by mothers in Asia, Africa and Latin America for centuries. It was initially introduced in the West in the early 1970s and has grown in popularity in the UK over the last 50years.
Touch is an important way to promote secure attachment between the parent and child and directly communicates love, caring and respect.
There are many benefits of infant massage for your baby, but parents don’t always realise that they also benefit from spending time massaging their child.
Top 5 benefits for your baby
- Develops a feeling of being loved, respected and secure
- Can alleviate trapped wind, constipation and soothe colic
- Develops mind and body awareness
- Promotes relaxation and sleep
- Skin-2-Skin contact for non-breastfed babies
Top 5 benefits for parent
- Wonderful way to connect with your baby
- Gives practical tool to comfort and soothe your baby
- Can alleviate postnatal depression symptoms and promote relaxation
- Enhances parental confidence and competence
- Helps parent notice baby’s cues and communication
Infant massage gives you opportunity to explore your relationship with your baby through loving touch and whilst doing so you are observing, interacting and engaging with your little one. All this encourages bonding and a secure attachment which will have a positive impact on both you and your baby.
Points to consider before massage
- Ensure your baby is well. If they have had immunisations, wait 24hrs before massaging
- Don’t wake your baby to massage them and stop if they fall asleep
- Choose a warm, draft-free room, where you can sit comfortably on the floor with your baby on a mat in front of you
- Maybe put on some quiet music that you find relaxing
- Ideally wait 30-40mins after a feed to massage them
- Make sure your hands are clean and remove any jewellery or watch that may catch on your baby’s skin
- Take a moment to take a few deep breaths, relax your shoulders and shake out any tension
- If using an oil for massage always patch test first and ensure it is good quality, organic oil that is suitable for babies skin. Oil allows your hands to stroke and soothe your baby without friction and enables deeper stoking. Apply oil as frequently as required throughout the massage
- Remove your baby’s clothes and have a blanket handy to be able to part cover them as you progress through the massage
- Always ask your baby permission at the start of the massage “hello Connie, would you like a massage today? and notice their response. If they are crying or unsettled, simply stop and give them a cuddle before restarting the process
- Massage is an activity we do with our baby, not to them!
Many parents include a short massage in the evening before bedtime to promote relaxation and sleep. However, massage can be done anytime and incorporated into your daytime routine;
- Nappy change time: a short 5 min tummy massage can be an effective way to prevent build-up of trapped wind and soothe colic
- Floor play: a back massage with songs or nursery rhymes can be a lovely way to help with tummy-time
- Nap time: a quick massage of their feet can be an opportunity to calm a fractious baby
So, you don’t need to spend a long time massaging your baby, seek those lovely moments to connect with them through loving touch whenever you can.
I like to think of the benefits of infant massage in terms of 3 C’s;
Claire teaches a variety of parent and baby classes in-person in Manchester and online across the UK.