As with all massage, Baby Massage is an ancient form of healing and is traditional in many cultures. Indeed, various forms of massage are used right up through the childhood years. For example, if a child falls and hurts its knee, the first thing they do is run to Mammy to have it kissed and rubbed better. Massage is suitable for all babies but I prefer to wait until the baby is about six weeks old before going to a class. They are also a great opportunity for new Mum to get out of the house and mix with others – lasting friendships are often formed at baby massage classes.
Baby massage has many benefits, here are just some:
Relaxes baby and soothes any little upsets
Lowers blood pressure and slows down heart rate
Promotes longer and deeper sleep
Lessens tension and irritability
Stimulates internal organs and the immune system
Helps to relieve colic and intestinal gas
Exercises the baby and teaches baby about his or her body
Promotes fuller and deeper respiration which, in turn, increases cardiac output
Promotes faster weight gain and all round general well-being (low birth weight babies benefit from massage by an increase in appetite)
In my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of baby massage is the bonding that occurs between the parent and the baby during this relaxing experience.
It's time out from all the extra chores and activity that accompany the arrival of a new baby. During massage, baby and parent have each other’s full attention. The eye to eye contact, skin contact and the verbal communication help the baby and the parent to feel closer to each other. The baby gets comfort from the gentle touch and the parent learns to recognise the baby’s body language.
Massage is a wonderful tool in helping parents who may not have had the opportunity for early bonding with their baby because of adoption, recovery from caesarean or perhaps after a premature birth. It is also of great benefit in the bonding process between parents and children with disability or communication issues.
What happens at a baby massage class?
Each tutor will have a different approach to teaching baby massage. I will give you a general description of what you can expect at a class. Numbers are usually small. One or both parents, or perhaps a grandparent or care-giver, may attend. The tutor will use a doll to demonstrate the massage as most young babies may not like to be handled or touched by a stranger. Parents will be shown a sequence to follow. This is a good idea as it helps the massage to run smoothly and you will find that baby gets used to the routine in no time.
Specific techniques will be taught that will enable the parent to help relieve certain discomforts such as; colic, nasal congestion, chest congestion and emotional stress.
Because of the endorphins that are released during massage, pain relief is enhanced and the baby feels comforted and reassured. The sequence can be put to nursery rhymes or children’s songs. This makes it a fun time and helps to develop motor skills and memory.
Some helpful tips:
When massaging baby it is best to keep your voice quiet and soothing, m ake sure the room is warm and draught free, make sure your hands are warm and choose a light, chemical and fragrance-free oil such as Pure Pro’s Ultra massage oil. Use light strokes and always maintain eye contact. Initially the massage should take about 10 minutes. After bath time is a good time to do a massage.
It is important for you as a massage therapist to train specifically in baby massage if you intend to offer this service to your clients or to Mums in the local community. I assure you it will be just as rewarding for you as it is for them. Here is a link to Baby Massage Ireland’s website where you can source a class near you - www.babymasageireland.com
Mary - always here to help you help your clients.