Baby Massage has been practised in societies across the world for thousands of years. In the last half century there has been a great deal of research which testifies to the benefits of infant massage for both caregiver and child, but there are likely wider benefits, that may not yet have found expression or evidence. Here I’ve outlined some of the keys benefits for babies, caregivers and society at large.
Like adults, babies can get stressed and upset, but unlike adults they don’t yet have the ability to regulate their stress response. When babies cry, they need comfort and reassurance, this helps reduce the level of stress hormones in their brain and soothe them. In baby massage, parents are encouraged to listen to and respond to their babies needs, even if that means not massaging them for a whole session. By taking this approach we promote bonding and secure attachment, which supports baby’s emotional wellbeing.
Babies have plenty of growing pains and several of the strokes taught in baby massage classes can help relieve colic, gas and teething amongst other things. Bonding helps to release oxytocin in both child and caregiver, and oxytocin has an analgesic effect, making pain and discomfort more manageable.
In a baby massage class, caregivers ask their baby permission to massage them, and interpret and respect their cues. From an early age these babies are being given a right to say whether or not they want to be touched and where. Building this language of consent in to a child’s day-to-day helps them to form and communicate boundaries when they get older and are able to speak for themselves.
Compared to other mammals humans are born early on their development and relatively helpless. Baby massage supports the development of their systems, such as circulation, digestion, proprioception outside of the womb.
These are just a few of the well documented benefits of baby massage, but there are plenty more. Click here for information about upcoming courses.