Baby massage - the gift of touch

In India baby massage has been practiced for centuries, most days mothers will massage the family. These techniques are passed onto their daughters, who will help massage the youngest members of the family. Vimala McClure who brought baby massage into our country said: “I saw a young mother sat in the dirt with her baby across her knees, lovingly massaging her baby and singing. As I watched her, I thought there is so much more to life than material wealth; she had so little, yet she could offer her baby this beautiful gift of love and security, a gift that would help to make him a compassionate human being. In spite of their disadvantages the children were loving, warm and playful, accepting responsibility and were happy.”

A relaxed baby means a relaxed parent, creating a wave affect throughout the family. Eye contact and face to face contact are one of the most powerful communication systems we have and are a vital link between parent and infant and will encourage baby’s language development.

The basic need for touch has a biological background. Research shows that as early as the seventh week of pregnancy, the baby reacts to touch. Biologically, touch is the earliest developed sense; it is the first to develop in the womb and the last to leave us at the end of life. Infants learn about the world through touch, and we would not survive without it.

Different areas of an infant’s body respond differently to touch. If you want to soothe an infant, gentle strokes or light massage on its back or legs will relax it, stroking babies face or stomach on the other hand, will stimulate it. The strokes should be gentle, firm and slow, if the touch is too light, it can over stimulate or even irritate an infant. The strokes will turn on the digestive system which will help with colic pain, wind or constipation. His circulatory system will also be stimulated which will quicken blood circulation providing nutrients to baby’s muscles and organs which will help keep baby healthy and aid weight gain.

There are many benefits to baby massage; to the baby, parents, family and society in general. Having that time, even ten minutes per day to sit quietly and get to know each other better. By doing this you will be able to recognise baby’s cues more quickly and act with the appropriate response. This will create an upward spiral of confidence in you which will help alleviate any concerns you may have and will help if you are finding things difficult or perhaps are suffering from post natal depression.

It has been widely recognised that although this is a happy stage of your life, it can also be extremely isolating. It is a complete change, from being a busy working girl out all day, to suddenly being stuck at home with no adult conversation, everyone else busy with their own lives. Baby massage classes will get you out of the house where you will meet other new mums in the same situation as you, a chance to share ideas, talk about any concerns, discuss relevant issues and most importantly a chat with some new found friends. Baby massage, a “gift of touch” for you and your baby.

Written by Alison Joyce from for East Surrey Family Grapevine

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