Back when my son Sidney was born I loved attending baby massage classes with him so much that I trained with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) to be a baby massage teacher.
I taught baby massage for around 6 months and loved every moment of it!
That seems like a lifetime ago now but the skills it taught me will always be there.
These are the 5 key reasons why I think baby massage is a super important skill to have as a parent or carer.
1 - Improved sleep
Studies show that baby massage can help improve your baby's circadian rhythm. Infants who are massaged by their parents before bed tend to fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and stay asleep longer. A great time to massage your baby is after their evening bath. If you make it part of your bedtime routine even better. After a massage baby's serotonin levels will increase, helping them drift off to sleep.
2 - Growth and Development
Studies show that babies who are massaged regularly show increased weight gain and improved development. They also tend to have improved immune function so they won’t get sick as often. All of these things contribute to a healthy, happier baby.
3 - Bonding
The gentle nurturing touch of massage shows love to a baby in a way that nothing else can. Massaging your baby stimulates the release of your body’s natural feel-good chemical, oxytocin. When oxytocin floods your body, it helps you and your baby to form a close bond. This, in turn, is proven to help healthy emotional development in your baby.
4 - Wind and Digestive issues
Believe it or not, infant massage can actually aid a baby’s digestion, and reduce wind. So if your baby suffers from wind, this could be a way to help them feel comfortable. There are special strokes that can be done on the stomach which help to move the pockets of trapped air through babies' large intestine. Massage will also encourage a release of endorphins in your baby which help to block pain.
5 - Reduces the risk of Postnatal Depression - this is a BIG one!
The early stages of parenting can be the most challenging and lonely. Baby massage can help you feel more confident and competent as a parent as well as giving you some quality time to bond with your little one. Even just getting out of the house and attending class can make all the difference. Oxytocin that is produced when massaging babies, benefits both baby and parent and those nearby, helping everyone to feel calm and relaxed.
Some key things to remember are:
- Only use cold pressed organic oil such as rapeseed oil - if you wouldn’t eat it please don’t put it on your baby's skin.
- Make sure that the lights are turned down low and you are in a warm relaxing environment.
- Prepare yourself for the massage. Make sure you are calm and your phone is in another room or switched off so you don’t have any distractions.
- It isn’t unusual for babies who have never been massaged before to fuss during the first session, this usually calms once your little one knows what to expect from the massage.
- There is no right or wrong length of time to massage your baby for just do it for as long as it feels comfortable for you both.
At the time I am writing this we in lockdown 🙁making finding a class locally impossible. Face to face with an experienced teacher is the best way to learn baby massage but there are a lot of great online tools you can turn to until we are free to roam again.
If you are looking for a trained teacher the IAIM website is a great place to start. netmums also has listings for all kinds of baby groups so do the NCT.
Any questions that I might be able to help with please leave in the comments below.
Have a great day