Grandparents

What is Baby Massage?

Baby massage or ‘infant massage’ is an alternative therapy that has been used to promote healing and well being across the world for thousands of years; accounts and references can be found as far back as 3,000 years. Developed from methods that have been passed down through generations, it involves the use of different techniques to gently manipulate and rhythmically stroke your baby’s body using your hands. It has been a long-standing and common practice in countries such as India, Africa and China and has gained pace and popularity in western culture since the late 1990’s.

So what are the benefits of baby massage?

There are many benefits of baby massage but here is our top 3:

1

Baby Massage stimulates the release of oxytocin (known as the love hormone) and encourages quality, focused bonding time between carer & baby. We use the term ‘carer’ here as it provides an opportunity not just for mum to bond but also dad or any other significant carer.

2

Baby massage can have many physical benefits; as well as improving muscle tone and encouraging growth hormones, it can also help improve circulation, digestion and ease symptoms of colic, colds and teething.

3

Being a baby can be stressful! All the new sights and sounds, growing, learning, crying, pooping, eating…it can all be a bit much! Baby massage can help baby relax and unwind, promoting some calm in the midst of a busy new world.

It is also worth mentioning that The Fetal & Neonatal Stress Research Group conducted a study considering whether mothers suffering from postnatal depression would benefit from attending baby massage classes. Their results showed that a group who attended 5 massage classes displayed significantly improved interaction with their babies and less depression than the control group who attended a support group. This suggests that baby massage could also be a very useful tool when trying to nurture the relationship between a depressed mum and her baby. Postnatal depression is not always well understood and anything that can add value in this area is a massive thumbs up as far as we are concerned!

We got in touch with Emma Whitehouse the founder of Mini Moments who offers Baby Massage Classes, Mum & Baby yoga, Pregnancy Yoga and Doula Services in our local area. She gave us her top tips for a successful introduction to baby massage.

Here’s what she had to say:

Baby massage can be done at any time of the day as long as your baby is relaxed, alert and looking for some interaction with their mummy.

To maximise the health benefits to the skin of being massaged, it is best done naked and in a warm room. This also enhances the flow of oxytocin between you and your baby and allows your baby to have more naked time!

The oil used should be food based to avoid causing allergies or allergic reactions and a patch test should always be done before using on the whole body. The top three oils to use are Sunflower oil, Fractionated coconut oil and Grape seed oil. These oils are all unfragranced so that your baby can smell you, their mummy, and bonding is optimised.

The safest and best way to learn baby massage is to attend a class either on a one-to-one basis or as part of a group. You should choose a baby massage teacher that is fully qualified; provides hand outs; checks the safety of your technique on your baby (or a demo doll) during every class; provides a calm, nurturing and supportive environment and will provide you with on going support.

One-to-one classes can be great for individual attention and flexibility. A group class can provide a lovely friendship and support network during the postnatal period, giving you the opportunity to share experiences in an empowering environment, which is often needed and appreciated during this time.

Emma’s Top tips:

1

Do baby massage when your baby is relaxed and looking for interaction

2

Try and do the massage in a warm room, so that your baby is comfortable naked

3

Wait at least 30 minutes after a feed before beginning a massage

4

Give baby a cuddle if they become grizzly, tired or start crying until they are calm and ready to try again later on

5

Massage with either: Sunflower oil, fractionated coconut oil or grape seed oil

6

Patch test new oils before using them – a small amount on the inside wrist, wait 10 minutes, then look to see if its red or unchanged

7

Talk and sing songs to your baby whilst you are massaging - it develops your bond further and develops you baby’s communication

If you are local to Cheltenham you can get in touch with Emma over at www.minimoments.co.uk to get more information on the benefits of attending a class.

There are plenty of videos on YouTube that can give you a rough guide on a basic massage technique at home but we would always recommend being guided by a qualified and experienced teacher and there are plenty of classes available up and down the country!

Did you do baby massage with your little one? How did you find it? What did you think?

Share your comments and experiences below!