Baby Massage and Bonding

The Benefits of Baby Massage The importance of touch for your baby’s growth, development and relationships should not be underestimated. There have been many studies which have shown that the power of touch and massage can stimulate a number of positive benefits for your baby. Here is a brief summary of the main benefits that we will be covering in more detail throughout the course. Benefits of Baby Massage for Babies

  • Encourages Bonding

  • Increases growth and weight gain

  • Reduces digestive problems including colic symptoms and constipation

  • Promotes sleep

  • De-stressing for baby

  • Stimulates development of the nervous system

  • Help the circulatory system to mature

Benefits of Baby Massage for Parent

  • Increased parental confidence

  • Understanding on your baby’s non verbal cues

  • Promotes communication and positive interaction

  • Increased bonding

  • De-stressing for parent

Baby Massage and Bonding The Importance of Touch Not only is skin our largest organ, it is the first organ to develop in the womb and as a result touch is the most developed of your baby’s senses when they are born. Babies first learn about communication and emotions through touch. Babies feel safe and secure when they are being held, and when they are upset and cry they learn that a parent/carer will give them comfort by holding them. Positive touch helps foster feelings of being cared for that help encourage positive sense of self. Touch is intrinsic in the attachment process between carer and baby. Historically, in western societies, we have been encouraged not to touch our babies too much for fear of spoiling them. This is now an outdated notion and baby massage is the perfect way to bring you closer to the most natural and instinctive form of nurturing your young. This closeness helps with the bonding process between the baby and parent. Touch and massage also help stimulate the production and release of ‘happy’ hormones. These hormones help a baby feel calm and loved and again help promote bonding. Interestingly, another (and unexpected) benefit of baby massage is the release of these happy hormones into the system of the carer performing the massage. This can be very beneficial for new mothers as giving birth can be a traumatic and stressful experience and adjusting to new motherhood is not always easy. Through the release of these hormones during massage the of levels of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol are lowered. At the same time, massage also causes the release of endorphins to the brain which give a naturally heightened sense of contentment and nurturing, improving the attachment process between parent and baby This is particularly important for mothers who experience postnatal depression and the postpartum blues. Recognising Your Baby’s Emotional Cues Even the tiniest babies have the ability to communicate their needs to us. Crying is their most obvious and effective method, but babies can also use cues (or signals) to indicate what their needs and wants are and in the early months these are non-verbal. Being aware of these cues can help you parent more sensitively, you start to really understand your baby and respond appropriately and quickly to their needs. This helps with attachment as your baby feels secure and cared for. Repeated experiences of being responded to help shape baby’s view that the world in a safe place. Baby massage requires very intimate skin-to-skin contact with your baby, which allows you to observe your baby’s’ unique features and characteristics. Over time, this closeness will allow you to recognise your baby’s actions, moods and behaviour. This in turn will enable you respond more effectively to these different scenarios in the best way, helping to calm your baby more quickly and effectively. Some cues which show that baby wants to engage are: Gazing at your face

  • They are still

  • Reaching out to you

  • Turning head and eyes towards you

  • Smiling and cooing

  • Moving arms and legs gently

  • Eyes bright and wide

When a baby wants a break or a rest they will disengage and withdraw and some cues are:

  • Turning head away

  • Crying or becoming fussy

  • Coughing

  • Arching back

  • Falls asleep

  • Squirms

  • Kicks

  • Pulls away

  • Spits or vomits

  • Turns eyes away

  • Breathes rapidly

  • Yawns

  • Wrinkles forehead

  • Frowns

  • Hiccups

  • Bottom lip may quiver

Your baby is an individual and may not display all of these cues and certainly not all at once. Promotes Communication and Interaction Baby massage should be a very different experience from the one you may have experienced on a spa day. Throughout a massage with your baby there should be constant interaction between you both. Maintaining eye contact is vital, as is talking and singing to your baby. The whole experience should enhance parent and baby communications, through both non-verbal (touch and eye contact) and verbal (talking and singing). This stimulation can lead to a richer relationship between the parent and baby. Baby massage is also a wonderful way for others who may have less contact with the baby, such as fathers and grandparents, to develop a lasting bond. Boost Parental Confidence One of the most important benefits of baby massage is that it can increase your confidence as a parent. By learning to recognise your baby’s nonverbal emotional cues you will be able to respond to them more effectively and confidently. This increased confidence can lead to you being a more relaxed parent who is more in tune with both your own intuition and your baby needs. This will help form a more sensitive and secure attachment between you both.

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