We are all very aware of Baby Massage, however, it has only become so widespread during the last 10-15 years. This is mainly due to the amazing research that took place around 2004 by Dr Tiffany Fields at the Touch Institute, Miami. Studies were run in Neo-Natal Units, where pre-term babies were massaged daily. The results were profound and babies fed more, slept better and therefore left the hospital before there non-massage counterparts. As you can imagine, it has now lead to the integration of Baby Massage into most Western Cultures as we all accept the benefits of Baby Massage.
As parents, we know that although our little baby may not have any verbal language they are able to let us know whether they are happy, unhappy, hungry, tired or content in many other ways. It is one of those amazing skills that parents develop quickly – how to ‘read’ their baby! Other’s will come up to your crying baby and say ‘oh he must be hungry?’ but you know that is not the way he acts when hungry, this time he is tired. How do you know? It’s all about the non-verbal communication, how he cry’s is just part of it. Is he also using his any other parts of his body? Are his eyes closed? As a parent, you learn to read these cue’s very quickly.
How does Baby Massage fit in? Well, how about touch as communication? Parents use it instinctively, we stroke our babies when they are tired or upset, we rock them to soothe them, we pat their back to reassure. Massage is yet another method of adding touch into this language. We call it the power of ‘positive touch’.
Video on Baby Massage Benefits
Benefits of Baby Massage
Every parent assumes that when their baby arrives they will ‘naturally’ feel a connection. That is not always possible, as for many babies they may be taken away from birth due to arriving early or problems during labour. For parents this trauma can be ongoing, they feel they have missed essential moments with their baby. Massage can help every parent with this bond. A time that you set aside just between you, your baby is the only focus. You are both able to develop that connection in a calm, relax environment. The use of repeated strokes can assist you both to allow a sense of security but also activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is our involuntary system, that regulates heart rate and blood pressure. Massage can help to regulate the heart rate and lower blood pressure, in both baby and parent – both win! You can read more on Bonding with your baby on our Guest post from Parenting expert, Sarah Weller.
Health Benefits for Baby
There are so many different ways that massage actually benefits the physical, emotional and mental well-being of your baby.
Lowers blood pressure
Reduces heart rate
Produces oxytocin (the feel-good hormone)
Decreases adrenaline (one of the hormones relating to stress)
Deepens the breath – deeper and longer breathing
Assists in weight gain due to the above
Health Benefits for Parents
Yes, you to benefit when you are performing a massage on your baby. The repetition of the strokes can also address your para-sympathetic nervous system in a similar way to your baby’s. Including:
Lowers your blood pressure
Increases the emotional bond between you and your baby
Deepens your breath as you tend to breathe more deeply as you perform the strokes
Increases your confidence
At some point in the early months, most parents strive to establish a routine for themselves and their baby. Based around feed times, sleep times and other family aspects (such as an older sibling). Massage is a great way of assisting in setting habitual behaviour. In all classes, I discuss how adding simple things like lighting and music all help ‘set the scene’. Creating an environment that is then always associated with their Massage gives your baby a sense of security which adds to the benefit of the routine. With the security babies often feed and sleep better. Again a great win for parents.
There are lots of other benefits for both you and your baby from regular massage. However, the key is to learn some techniques that you feel confident enough to take home and use regularly. Many more benefits are discussed at the Massage Your Baby Course. Often parents bring up new ideas of how massage benefits their family, as we have plenty of time to chat over a cup of tea at the end of classes.
Pick a suitable time of day
Use a good quality Baby Massage Oil
Ensure your environment is warm
Turn off the phone
Learn a few strokes that you and your baby enjoy
If you would like more details of some of the amazing research carried out by Dr Tiffany Field then please have a look – Research
For more information on the current Massage Your Baby courses run by Buddha Buddies you can check out the bookings page.
For more Parenting Tips you can also visit Rachel Hawkes on the Mindful Parenting Site. There are so many FREE resources relating to parenting.
Thanks for reading and I hope that you will take the time to visit Mindful Parenting or read some of the other useful blogs.
For thousands of years, mothers all over the world have swaddled their babies.
Swaddling helps your baby to feel safe and secure and is a great way to soothe them. It can even help your baby sleep longer!
Here are three reasons why:
1. Swaddling your baby prevents unnecessary wakes ups due to the moro(or startle) reflex. This is where your baby feels as if they’re falling and reacts by lifting their arms. If this happens when your baby is in a light sleep phase this can startle them awake. Swaddling helps your baby feel as if they are being held safely.
2. Swaddling helps to recreate the secure and cosy feeling of the womb. After 9 months of being in Mum’s tummy, the outside world can be a scary and confusing place for a baby. They need constant comfort and reassurance during this time. While being wrapped up tightly in a blanket might not sound appealing to parents, it can help babies sleep better and cry less.
3. Blankets and quilts can easily be kicked or thrown off in the night, leaving your baby waking up cold and uncovered. A swaddled baby should remain safely wrapped up, which hopefully means less wake up calls for you! If however you do have a little escape artist on your hands, be sure to check out our FREE swaddling guide! It shows you six ways to swaddle – to cover different ages and stages!
Of course, another huge benefit is if baby sleeps more, then Mum and Dad sleep more!
Finally, remember to always swaddle safely:• Never cover your baby’s head.• Always use a thin fabric and make sure your baby doesn’t overheat. (Tiny Chimpmunk muslins are perfect as bamboo’s natural properties will keep your baby cool.)• Always place your baby on their back when swaddled and use a different swaddling method when they are able to roll over.
Guest blog by Vickie Weinberg, from Tiny Chimpmunk. Check out her amazing website full of gorgeous bamboo baby goodies.
Rachel is a Complimentary Health Specialist running a Wellbeing Centre and also founder of Buddha Buddies Baby Classes. The resources page is full of FREE DOWNLOADS for many aspects of being a Mindful Parent. You can also read her article on picking up some useful Mindfulness tips for parents. For lots more parenting tips, head over to the new Mindful Parenting Website.
To grab a copy of over 40 techniques to introduce mindfulness with your children, just head on over to Amazon. Available as both a ebook and paperback. The perfect Summer read.
For a natural baby bath alternative, this recipe will do the trick. If you are looking to use a natural remedy in your baby’s bath, using simple ingredients that ensures that your baby’s skin is kept chemical-free and feels super soft, then try this easy to make at home method. Reduce your plastics, reuse your muslin and compost the waste. This Baby Bath Soak is easy and fun to make.
Healing Power of Plants
So, if your baby gets dry skin, or you are in need of a remedy for the symptoms of Chicken Pox, Eczema or viral rashes. This easy to make natural recipe can be a lifesaver!
Suitable from Newborns onwards, there are no nasty chemicals or preservatives. A perfect natural option for baby bath time.
Natural Remedies for your Baby
Oats have been used for thousands of years to naturally feed the skin, calming and nourishing it is a great base for this remedy.
Lavender has been used medicinally for centuries and is known to be both anti-inflammatory and anti-septic.
Together these are both safe, natural, edible ingredients. If your baby swallows any of the water, it should not cause any side affects.
Put your oats and lavender together in the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Scoop out a large handful of the mixture and put into the middle of your muslin square. Tie the muslin closed tightly (WARNING – if you do not tie is securely, the mixture will come out in the bath)
Just throw the bath soak into the bath. The water will turn milky from the oats and the smell will be amazing.
When you have finished, untie and empty the mix into the garden compost. The muslin can be washed and used again.
Reduce your plastics
Not only is this Baby Bath Soak a great natural remedy to use with your baby, children or in fact the whole family; but you are also reducing your plastics, reducing your waste and lowering your toxic load too!
As the main ingredient is so readily and cheaply available, the cost per bath soak is tiny! You can often pick the lavender from your own garden, or if you are purchasing a bottle of Doterra Lavender Oil then you will realise that it lasts a long time, you should be able to make at least 100 Baby Bath Soaks with just one bottle.
More natural remedies
If you would like to know more recipes that use natural ingredients, then check out the Home Cleaning Products article. You can also sign up to the monthly Parenting Tips newletter, which has lots of great resources.
Pregnancy, is like carrying around a hot water bottle with you all the time! So when the weather heats up, you might feel it more than others. So here are some tips for keeping cool
Top 10 Tips to Stay Cool
1. Run your wrists under tepid water. This will help cool the rest of your body too by lowering your core temperature. Don’t make the water too cold as it will constrict your blood vessels and send signals to your body to retain heat.
2. If you suffer from swollen ankles and feet, raise them up and drape them with cool wet towels. Also, take advantage of the weather to wear flip flops
3. Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water, 8 glasses a day is recommended. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, take a bottle of water with you everywhere.
4. Go for a swim. I remember how much I loved swimming when I was pregnant, for one thing, I felt weightless for the whole time. Even if you can’t swim, spend some time submerged in the water at the shallow end, it’s a wonderful relief.
5. If you can, run your errands in the morning, before the sun gets too hot.
6. Wear large airy clothes of natural fibres, during the day as well as at night.
7. Keep your blinds and curtains closed during the day and windows open to keep the air circulating.
8. Invest in a fan and put a frozen bottle of water in front to add moisture to the air
9. If you find it difficult to stay cool at night, check out this cooling pillow
Guest Blog by Family Photographer Janet Penny. Janet is based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England and specialises in baby, child and pregnancy photography.
Janet runs Hushabye Photography, specialising in newborn, older baby and maternity photography. You can see her work on her website.
Rachel is a Complimentary Health Specialist and runs a Wellbeing Centre and is the founder of Buddha Buddies, Baby and Children’s Yoga, Massage and Mindfulness classes. She is the author of Mindful Parenting – 40 Mindful Moments to share with your children. She is currently working with experts in the field of Pregnancy, Child Development and Mindfulness to bring more information to parents everywhere. You can check out her blog on Top Tips to bring in some Mindful Moments with your children.
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There is culturally an assumption that all Mothers will naturally bond with their baby, but your baby also is naturally hardwired to seek strong attachment from you too. Babies naturally seek security and we want to provide it. Babies are born ready to love and to be loved. As a parent, it is our goal to love our children but also to instil in them an intrinsic knowledge that they are lovable, which is the foundation of self-esteem.
Parenting – The Hardest Job
But despite a strong intention to bond, often particularly as new parents, we can fret about it, especially if we are prone to anxious thoughts. Being a parent is no doubt the hardest job on the planet, but one that brings such joy and fulfilment. The job doesn’t come with a training manual, but attachment theory and a Positive Parenting approach encourage us to view our children as our instruction manual, as from the moment they are born, they are able to best tell us what they need. Above all, they need to be cherished. There is a lovely quote I found recently written by an American psychologist….” we think of cherished as the emotional equivalent of nourishment. Soul Food”.
So what are the foundations of baby bonding? They are simply created through the day to day, moment by moment response to our baby’s needs, which they communicate to us by crying. Traditional parenting advice has included the idea that babies should be left to cry it out, once their physical needs are met, but all the latest research, including brain imaging, concludes that leaving a baby to cry and prolonging its emotional distress contributes negatively to the brain, by the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Responding to your baby crying is not allowing them to manipulate you, you cannot spoil a child with hugs or connection. In fact the more hugs, the more the brain develops and the more they feel cherished.
Research has evidenced that disruption in attachment is created when there is no response to a baby’s cry.
We respond to our baby’s needs by responding across all the senses with our voice and touch, through our smell by holding them, through feeding and talking, by mimicking their sounds. But one of the most powerful and lovely ways with newborns is through touch. As well as having your baby in a sling on your chest, Baby Massage and Baby reflexology have huge benefits to the bonding process for both Mum and baby.
Attachment theory is the foundation of the Circle of Security Positive Parenting philosophy that I share through my Parenting Coaching Practice. Secure attachment is built through a relationship that creates confidence in the availability of a specific protective caregiver whilst at the same time, that caregiver is able to support their child’s exploration when it is safe to do so. It is this premise that helps children thrive and is the building block for the growth to independence. Our children are dependent on us so that we can guide them, through a relationship of trust to withstand the challenges they will face as they get older.
Guest Blog by Parenting expert Sarah Weller, based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, Sarah specialises in Positive Parenting. Read more about her in the bio bellow.
There are Amazon Affiliate links in this article. A small income is made for every purchase, but only products used or endorsed by Rachel Hawkes are linked here.
About Sarah Weller
The Weller Way is a Family Relationship Coaching practice, run by Sarah Weller, a qualified and experienced Parenting Consultant, Coach and Certified NLP Practitioner based in Tunbridge Wells, working throughout Kent and Sussex. Sarah has been married for 30 years to Paul and is a Mother of 4 children, now in their twenties.
Sarah’s Coaching approach is completely holistic, to ensure that the needs of the whole family are met, parents and children. So during the process of helping parents unwrap what is going on underneath the surface of children’s behaviour, Sarah helps parents reflect on their own relationship needs.
Sarah has many years of experience and training for her roles in supporting young people and families in the Mental Health and Homelessness sectors. She is passionate about Mental Wellbeing for the whole family. She is an experienced Licenced Trainer for MIND Fitness and a Mental Health Youth First Aider. As a result, she is also able to offer Life Coaching and Mentoring to troubled teens to boost their confidence and self-esteem. You can contact Sarah or read more from her on any of the links below:
There are lots of other great blogs available for parents looking for tips, including how to add in some Mindful Moments, or maybe how we deal with guilt as a parent. For lots of FREE resources, you can also sign up for the newsletter, which will be sent only every 4-6 weeks.
Rachel Hawkes is the Founder of Buddha Buddies and writes on all things baby and mindful parenting. You can check out her book, packed full of tips for introducing Mindful Moments to your family below.
This is not yet another thing to ‘fit in’. A training course to complete or even a chore to tick off your very long ‘to do list’. This is going to be a simple blog with easy to use tips on how to just enjoy the time you spend with your children. How to create Mindful Moments with your family.
Just grab a cuppa and spend a few moments having a quick read of how these 10 Tips for Mindful Moments can easily fit into any day.
For many, the idea of Mindfulness sounds daunting! You do not live in that calm, zen-like state that you see on Instagram – so no, it’s not for you, right? Well, how about if it was just about how you could ‘feel’ in any given moment? What if it gave you headspace, a precious few moments that you could then share with your family? Does that sound more realistic to you?
Well, that is my journey. I love the practice of sitting down, no distractions and allow my mind space to just be. The reality for most of us mums though is rather different! When I became a parent, I realised very quickly that these moments to myself were going to be very rare. How then could I still have this all-important headspace and be a parent? The answer, as usual, is simple. I just brought my kids into the practice with me. Yes, it looks very different but it not only gave me that all-important mind break but also increased my connection to my children. We create our mindful moments, whenever and wherever we can.
Sharing the practice
For this, you do not need any special ‘place’ or setting. These little exercises can be done at home, our when you are out and about, some even in the car! This is all about ease – for you and for your family. You do not need to think of specific times that will ‘suit you’, just go with the flow. If they come back from pre-school or school and you have a few minutes before dinner, or you are walking the dog on a Sunday afternoon, maybe as they climb into bed. Just think of these as your shared ‘moments of calm‘.
10 Tips for Mindful Moments
No pressure – My Number 1 Top Tip. This is meant to be time for you all to enjoy TOGETHER, not something anyone is forced to take part in. If someone is not in the mood for it that day, let it go.
Time of day – It really is important that you find a moment that works for you all. Not as you are expecting a phone call or the dinner is coming out of the oven.
Anytime, anywhere – Think about this, bring these exercises out with you. If your toddler is suddenly having a meltdown in the car, bring out the 5 things exercise (see below). Often, these can really change the mood with children and once they understand how to use them, they are happy to try them anywhere.
Connection – These exercises are all about sharing. Working on the connection between you as a parent and your children. Once they know them well, you can, of course, get them to take part in other situations where you are not present. Between siblings for example, or maybe in the playground. Initially, though, it will need your participation and surely that is also part of the joy!
Age and additional needs – If you have children of different ages, then feel free to adapt these techniques. You can use them with all age ranges from toddler to teen, however you will need to adapt your language to suit your family’s needs. This also applies for any of your children with additional needs, for some children with ADHD or those on the autistic spectrum sitting for more than a few minutes might make them feel uncomfortable. So, if you need to, take it outside, or they can sit/ lie down but move any part of their body if needed. Again, you know your children, so as long as they are engaged then how they sit/ lie/ stand/ walk, doesn’t really matter.
Getting comfy – There is no need to get hung up on this. Traditionally meditation takes place sitting, feet connected to the ground. Or lying down, back against the floor. These are great, but especially younger children might be better off on their sides or just allowed to change position if they want to. Some of the best times to connect are just when taking a walk!
Take a breath – In whatever position you find yourself. Standing, walking or sitting down. Close your eyes (if possible) and putting one hand over your heart just take a breath in and out. Feel the chest rise and fall with each breath in and out. See if you can make each breath last a little longer, exhale a little slower. Do not force the breath, just be aware of it. As you all get more used to the ‘idea’ of the breath and gain awareness you can then start making this into a longer exercise. Try counting the breath 1,2,3 (in) 1,2,3 (out). They can get up to the count of 5 but I would not go higher than that with children under the age of about 8 years old.
Mindful Walking – When you next head outside think of somewhere you can go where you can take off your shoes and socks, a park, garden or even the beach. All standing together, have a spot in front of you maybe 10-20 feet away. Lifting one foot up, place it back down in front, slowly walking towards that spot. Be aware of your foot as it lifts, and then feel how each part of your foot connects to the ground when it lowers. Keep the eyes focused on the spot ahead or the feet. No talking (though there is often giggling), when you get to the spot, stop. Turn around and repeat.
The 5 Senses – This can be done at home, out and about or in the car. It is a great way of getting everyone to really look at what is around them. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This works on engaging all of the senses and also enables children to really participate in everything that is around them. (We often used this instead of eye spy on car journeys!)
Ending – One of the best things about any mindful moment is then having the time to reflect. This is especially so for children, it takes them longer for their brain to process new experiences so if possible allow a few minutes for them to discuss with you what happened, how they felt, what they liked or just to have a good laugh!
Most of all enjoy this time! Make these Mindful Moments a part of your day and share as many of them as you can! That is one of the joys of parenting that often gets lost when we are too busy with the juggle of every day to just, appreciate a moment. These are just 10 Tips for Mindful Moments that you can use, there are so many more out there! I hope that your journey into Mindful Parenting will create lots of amazing memories for you and your family. Do feel free to get in touch too! You can check out more in my latest book, written for all of us busy parents.
There are more blogs for you to have a read, including some tips for new mums who need to ditch the guilt! Or you can pick up lots of FREE mindful parenting downloads and printables over on the resources page of the website. If you would like to learn more techniques then you can purchase the book by Rachel Hawkes on Amazon. Full of lots of practical techniques to share with your family.
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Mindful Moments Toolbox
If you would like a great list of some top tools to use with your children then check out my Amazon Toolbox. Yes, as an affiliate I do earn a small amount from all purchases but they are all items that I use not only with my children but also in my classes.