You’re a new parent and it doesn’t take long to realize that as soon as you put your baby down they start to cry. Pick them up, the crying stops and it’s all smiles. Did you know that just the touch that comes from holding the baby is what they find so soothing and nurturing? Now just imagine the benefits of a full-body massage.
Numerous studies prove that the contact coming from massaging your infant can definitely reduce fussiness and crying. This will help them, and therefore you, to have a more restful sleep, and reduce common ailments, like constipation and colic, which cause the crying in the first place. It is even possible that this nurturing touch helps a baby fight off harmful germs.
“When you give your baby a massage, you’re actually stimulating her central nervous system,” explains Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. “That sets off a chain reaction: It makes her brain produce more serotonin, a feel-good chemical, and less cortisol, a hormone that’s secreted in response to stress. As a result, your baby’s heart rate and breathing slow down, and she becomes more relaxed. ”
Giving your infant regular massages is good for his emotional well-being too. “Affectionate touch and rhythmic movement are among the most powerful forms of communication between babies and their parents, so they’re great ways for you to bond,” says K. Mark Sossin, PhD, director of the Parent-Infant Research Nursery at Pace University, in New York City. The payoff of baby massage trickles down to parents. “It’s easy to feel helpless with a newborn, but giving him a gentle rubdown can help you feel more in control,” explains Elaine Fogel Schneider, PhD, author of Massaging Your Baby: The Joy of Touch Time. “It will help you learn how to read your baby’s signals and respond better to his unique needs.”
Bonding with your new child
It is a subconscious urge of every mother and father to get to know their new babies, to establish a strong bond with them. Massage, a form of loving touch, is an excellent natural way to achieve all that, not to mention the long list of added benefits that it carries for baby and parents. Just one example is the production of the Oxytocin hormone stimulated by the stroking hands not only in the parents but in the baby as well. Oxytocin is the hormone that gives you that warm, loving feeling when you hold your baby close or breastfeed her.
Aside from the ‘loving touch’ that brings the release of oxytocin there are some further benefits of baby massage for both infant and adult:
Benefits for the infant
- relaxation for babies and parents
- makes baby feel loved
- promotes better, longer sleep
- develops body awareness
- reduces colic and crying
Benefits for the parent:
- strengthens bonds between infant and parent
- can help calm the mind
- a calmer infant will mean a less stressful day
- helps gain a better understanding of an infant’s body language
- increased confidence about parenting skills
What school of massage is taught?
This type of massage was developed by Vimala McClure, who at the age of 21 worked in a small orphanage in northern India where saw a quite interesting phenomenon. Despite the limited amount of food and the poor circumstances, the infants there did quite well. She noticed that before bed, the older girls in the orphanage would message the infants who clearly enjoyed it and would go right to sleep afterwards. Later, while McClure was suffering from the effects of malaria, she experienced the positive effects of massage on her own skin. Her early personal experiences, and proof from massaging her own infant children, gave her a solid ground for developing her own baby massage technique by mixing elements of ancient Indian massage with parts of Swedish massage, reflexology and yoga.
FirstMed’s infant massage
Our course, led by pediatrician Annamaria Wilde, consists of 5 sessions over 5 consecutive weeks, with each session lasting for 90 minutes. This class is offered 2-3 courses per year, depending on interest, with 4-5 new mothers per course. During the class you will learn how to massage a new part of the body each week with each session beginning with a review of the previous session’s material. By the end of a course you will have learned how to massage the entire body of our baby and will even learn techniques to help eliminate an infant tummy ache.
If you are interested in learning more about our infant massage course or would like to be notified when our next class begins please click this link and register your contact details with us.
ATTN: Currently Dr. Wilde is on sabbatical so this class is suspended until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.
1 From Nancy Gottesman in Parents Magazine