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
- Releases Oxytocin
- 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.