By massaging your baby it may strengthen the bond with baby, soothe colic and aid sleep.
Baby massage is an instruction course to teach parents / grandparents how to massage baby correctly. I give helpful hints and tips of adaptations of the moves to suit you and baby, ideas for ways to incorporate massage into baby's daily routine and continued learning, help and support as baby gets bigger. You don't need any previous massage experience as you will be taught everything that you need to know at a pace that suits you. My aim is to build your confidence in massaging baby and make it an enjoyable, relaxing experience for both of you.
History of baby massage
In India, Asia and Africa baby massage has been around for thousands of years. It was first introduced in the UK as a parenting tool in the mid to late 70's. It has now started increasing in popularity as more and more people are starting to realise the benefits that holistic therapies bring with them. Midwives, health visitors and nursery nurses are embracing and encouraging this new found skill because of the benefits and fulfillment it may bring.
- Baby massage is a form of mutual exchange between parent and baby, it is a source of physical and emotional nourishment. It is loving communication, positive physical contact, bonding and stimulation of baby's development and may bring a sense of fulfillment, contentment and wellbeing.
- Bonding with a new born baby doesn't always happen naturally and by massaging baby it may help this process of bonding and may help a parent to develop a deeper understanding of the importance of touch, whilst at the same time it may help baby by teaching important qualities such as love, respect and caring.
- By massaging premature babies medical research has shown better weight gain, increased growth and development.
- May help to stimulate and strengthen baby's immune system.
- May help to stimulate baby's circulation (increased blood flow may ensure oxygen and nutrients reach baby's cells and tissues).
- May help to encourage relaxation and may help induce sleep (deeper and for longer periods of time).
- May help to teach baby how to experience relaxation (which may help later in life when dealing with stress)
- May help to give baby comfort and reassurance through skin contact and may improve emotional security.
- May help to aid digestion and may help relieve constipation and colic.
- May help to encourage muscle co-ordination and joint mobility.
- May help to gain fuller and deeper breathing which may increase cell regeneration for growth and development.
- Stimulating the skin through massage may produce endorphins which may help improve emotional well being by lifting the mood and may help reduce pain and tension
- Stimulating the skin may also stimulate the nervous system (speeds up myelination of nerves to enhance neurological and motor development).
- May improve sensory awareness due to tactile stimulation.
- For parents it may increase confidence and self esteem in parenting and also in handling baby and may help parents to read baby's non-verbal signs / body language.
Contraindications (reasons why it may not be possible to massage baby) and the best times to massage
- Not until after baby's 6-8 week medical check has been carried out
- When baby is not too tired or too hungry, so maybe 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes after feeding
- Not when baby is sleeping or crying (if baby is sleeping during an instruction session the moves can still be demonstrated and practiced on a doll so don't worry)
- When baby is unwell he / she should not be massaged (fever or infectious disease).
- If baby has just been immunised it is advisable to wait for 48 hours to see how baby reacts.
- Recent operations / surgery – consult GP first.
- Recent fractures, sprains or swellings – avoid massaging until signs of inflammation have gone down.
- Skin disorders – avoid rashes and affected areas.
- Cuts and bruises – avoid the area
- Unhealed navel – no massage until area has healed.
- Recent hemorrhage – avoid massage and ask for medical advice.
- Congenital heart condition – GP approval will be needed
A lot of conditions vary from baby to baby so it is often necessary to seek professional approval from the baby's GP first to find out what is advised for your baby.
- Spastic conditions – massage may help increase joint mobility and reduce rigidity as well as being comforting. GP approval will be requires first.
- Dysfunction of the nervous system – discuss with GP first
Epilepsy – seek advice from GP first and if approval is given it may mean sessions have to be shorter and results will have to monitored.
- Downs syndrome – consult GP first but massage usually benefits downs syndrome babies as it can help increase muscle tone and also improve balance and co-ordination
- Muscular dystrophy – seek GP advice first. Care should be taken as muscles can be painful but by massaging the abdominal area lightly it can help ease constipation because of the affect the disease has on the involuntary nervous system. It may also slow down muscle atrophy.
- Spina bifida – seek GP approval first and if granted massage should be carried out very carefully but it may help increase joint mobility which will help to prevent contractures of muscles and may also help to reduce the plasticity of the muscles.
- Cerebral palsy – seek GP approval first but massage can provide great emotional support as well as improving circulation to the skin and muscles that are used , improving posture, reducing stress and reducing plasticity helping to prevent contractures.
- Autism – seek medical advise first and massage would have to be monitored to see how baby gets on with it as autistic children have difficulty expressing verbal and / or non-verbal communication and may get distressed, on the other hand it may be a comfort and help them to relax.
- Cystic fibrosis – seek GP advise first. It is important with cystic fibrosis to make sure that baby doesn't come into contact with any form of infection but massage can help drain the viscous mucus from the lungs and increase blood flow and lymph drainage in the fatigued respiratory muscles.
What you will need to provide for your
baby massage session
- Surface to massage baby on
– If at home, somewhere you will feel comfortable – bed, sofa, on your lap, sat on the floor with baby in front of you on a pillow or baby changing mat.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages so it is important to work out which best suits you.
– If it is a group session a baby changing mat or pillow with a towel over it – just make sure that baby is comfortable as the group session will be carried out sat on the floor
- You may want to bring a pillow for yourself to a group session to place under your bottom or behind our back to make yourself comfortable when sat on the floor
- Spare nappies
- Baby wipes
- A bottle for afterwards – cooled boiled water is good as it helps flush out toxins expelled during massage
- Antibacterial hand gel – although I always have some available
- Oil if you have your own – non-scented organic grape seed oil is recommended for use -although other oils can be used, contact me for details
- Blanket to wrap baby in after massage for comfort
- Absorb any excess oil with a towel after massage
- After massage avoid exposing baby to direct sunlight
- After massage make sure you let baby have plenty to drink
- Let baby relax after massaging him / her if she / he wants to
- Body temperature drops during massage so keep baby warm after massage, it is quite nice to cuddle baby up in a blanket as this is very comforting too
- Monitor baby's responses to being massaged, also watch to see if he / she gets used to massage being part of the daily routine and what baby's response is to this
Baby massage instruction classes can either be on a one-to-one basis, with friends or in group classes so please contact me to let me know which you would prefer to do and if it is a group class I can let you know where and when the next one is being held. If it is a one-to-one session I can show 2 people the moves at the same time (included in the price),one will be learning on a dolly, but in small groups of friends or in group sessions this is not possible although there may be room for a second person to come along with you and watch.