Welcome to part two of my baby massage blog series where I share – How to connect with your baby through massage.
Baby massage is the perfect activity to encourage connection and communication between parent and baby. It allows you to spend time focused on each other without distraction and naturally combines all the main elements of bonding – skin to skin contact, eye contact, oxytocin release, voice and even scent (this is a very subtle and often overlooked element of bonding and is a good reason to use fragrance free products on your baby’s skin to avoid masking this).
It helps you to learn your baby’s cues, understand their non-verbal communication and distinguish between cries giving you confidence in your parenting ability. At the same time having you listen to and respond to their cues helps your baby to feel securely attached, loved and respected which is important for their long term emotional health.
Initial studies have also shown benefits for mothers suffering with postnatal depression with marked improvement in mother-infant interaction.
To facilitate positive connection, massage should always be done “with” and not “to” your baby. Before you begin to massage try to make eye contact, place a resting hand on your baby and asks permission to give the massage. Observe their body language and behaviour to determine whether they are happy for you to begin. As you massage continue to check in to see if you need to make adjustments. Responding to their cues by slowing down, changing position or stopping communicates to your baby that they are in control of the massage and brings positive associations.
Massage encourages verbal and non- verbal communication between you and your baby. This interaction helps with their language development, memory and concentration, increases their recognition of facial and emotional expressions and supports the development of social skills. In my baby massage classes it is always wonderful to see a mum and baby lock eyes and reciprocate with relaxed movements, smiles, chat and babbling.
In part three I share …… How to choose a suitable oil for baby massage
Read part one in the series How to get ready for baby massage
To learn a full baby massage routine along with how to adapt the strokes as your baby grows visit IAIM to find a class near you.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com