*This is a guest post
I must admit when I first heard about baby massage I must admit I sniggered! How ridiculous, a baby receiving a spa treatment. How stressful can being a baby be? And who exactly massaged them? I thought it was for rather indulgent parents and couldn’t understand how there might be any benefit.
How wrong I was!
Fast-forward 5 years…I became a parent for the first time and re discovered baby massage. Mainly because I wanted a career change, so decided that I would train as an infant massage teacher. It was the best thing I have done in my career, and subsequently for my children. I can truly say baby massage is brilliant!
As a teacher, I teach parents to massage their own babies and show you strokes you can use with your child for years to come.
I am not going to tell you it helps a baby sleep through the night, or it means they are always chilled out and calm (I wish these were the case, but I didn’t get a full night’s sleep until my youngest was 14 months!) Whilst of course, it’s certainly true straight after a massage that a baby is calmer and may well sleep better for that period, for me massage is so much more than that.
To me, the main benefit of massage is about connecting. And as wishy washy as that may sound its vital in communicating with your children, and it goes well beyond the babyhood. My 3 ½ year old loves having a massage, as does my 2-year-old. The massage changes, and is less frequent, but still provides all the benefits it always has. Time to connect and be with each other. Time to shut out the rest of the world, put down the mobile and be in the moment.
As children grow and start to crawl, or walk, there seems less opportunity to massage as they are unlikely to lay still, but this does not mean massage isn’t possible. You can just change the way you massage. For example, you can just massage one area such as their back or legs. You can sing songs or tell a story. This can continue as they start nursery and school, you can massage over clothes, or just the areas always exposed like hands or feet.
The beauty of massage is that it’s your time together that’s important and you take your lead form your baby/ child. They can tell you what’s ok for them and how much to massage, and changes you can make to engage them. This may not be verbal, they may tell you though other cues, but you know your baby/ child best, so you read their cues. It’s the connection and time that you will both value and bring you closer together.
Since starting as a massage teacher I have now created my own programme based on the things my children love. Massage and signing. I wanted a course that brought together the two things because I believe that this is the best way of connecting with your little ones. Something you can do together that could be used throughout childhood with rhymes that you can sing together and a way of making massage playful and nurturing.
I find that it means massage can continue and the children are more involved, they recognise the songs and stay engaged in the process. There are many research articles that show the power of touch, that it can be calming, release oxytocin the love hormone and reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. There is also a lot of evidence about the importance of rhyming for babies and children in developing language skills and later literacy skills. So, by massaging and singing you are bringing the best of those elements together.
Author bio: Alexia is a mother of 2 little ones, she also created the Massage, Language and Connection Programme, an online baby massage course combining song and massage. Find out about how you can learn baby massage online at a time and pace to suit you with Roots And Wings Parenting and connect on Facebook here.