Introducing Infant Massage
Human touch is one of the earliest senses to develop and one of the first ways a parent communicates with baby. If you think about how a hug or a pat on the back has the potential to make us feel deeply, then it is not hard to understand how a soothing touch can have a profound effect on babies and their parents and caregivers. It’s no wonder that infant massage has been practiced around the world for centuries.
Benefits of Infant Massage
According to the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, soothing strokes relax baby, release stress, and increase the bond between baby and adult. The special time between parents and babies spent in massage can make a parent feel better. What’s more, infant massage has proven benefits for preterm and special needs babies. Massage can help digestion, relieve colic, boost immune activity, and improve the baby’s ability to fall asleep.
Many experts agree that taking a class on infant massage from a certified, trained instructor is the best way to learn, but “Getting started can be as easy as using long strokes on your baby’s arms and legs when you are bathing them or putting on lotion,” according to Carolyn Guenther Malloy, LMT and CIMI. Guenther says, “The basic techniques of infant massage are firm but gentle strokes that help to promote calming and nurturing for the baby and parent. Strokes away from the body [Indian Style massage] promote calming and relaxation. Strokes towards the body or heart [Swedish style massage] help promote stimulation of the muscles. A good infant massage routine will offer a variety of different types of strokes and last approximately 15-20 minutes.” When massaging, feel free to use soap, baby lotion, or a non-toxic oil such as almond, to reduce friction. In addition, sing, talk to baby, or play calm music while you massage.