Why Is Baby Massage So Amazing?
There are certain classes or activities that are really popular to do with your baby and one of them is baby massage. For lots of parents it’s a time to bond and connect or maybe something that brings a bit of relaxation to the end of the day and hopefully sets baby up for a good night’s sleep.
But it turns there is far more to it that just a lovely time with your baby. What are the benefits of baby massage and is it worth bothering with a class?
Massage can be a really special time with your baby. Lots of contact, talking to them and positive touch will really help you connect and can help parents grow in confidence handling their baby. We know that skin to skin is amazing for babies and the touch of your hands on their skin is a lovely connection. This time and interaction will help you learn more about your baby’s cues and become more in tune with what they need all of which will aid your baby’s attachment to you.
Your touch will help your baby relax which can release tension from them physically and mentally. The long soothing strokes of massage will cause the release of oxytocin, a hormone which is all about love and feelings of safety, and endorphins. The endorphins reduce cortisol – a stress hormone – calming baby and aiding maturation of their nervous system. And increasing relaxation might just help with sleep too!
A regular massage routine can work wonders for tummy discomfort easing wind and constipation as well as improving colic symptoms.
Massage can promote alertness and learning and is likely to be a time where there is lots of eye contact and communication with the parent massaging, plenty to be taking in and learning. For babies to learn and develop they need lots of touch when they are little and massage is a perfect way to do this.
Boost immune function
Massage has been shown to boost immune function, improving the numbers of white cells which fight infections. Reducing levels of cortisol also help to boost the immune system.
Massage can promote blood flow with the direction of the strokes aiding blood flow back to the heart.
Newborns are not co-ordinated people. If you watch a new baby you see arms and legs waving around and gradually over time they gain more control and co-ordination. In order for this to happen their brains are developing and growing at a crazy rate and massage can help those brain connections to grow. As you move their arms or legs or touch their body it makes a connection in their brain and as you repeat it that connection strengthens. You are showing them how to stretch, how to move both arms or one arm, how to tap their toes or clap. And it might be a good few months before they can do it themselves but you are laying the foundations for them to take those next steps. Everything you do is helping with body awareness as you touch across the whole body and show them how to move.
Tummy time can be tricky when babies are little (see my blog on tummy time if you are struggling) but a few minutes of a back massage can be a really lovely way to do it. You can come really low and close to baby so they feel safe or you can rest them on your legs while you do some lovely long oxytocin boosting strokes or some more pressure to deal with any muscle tightness.
Learn more about baby’s cues
One of the things we want as new parents is to understand our babies. It can feel so hard at first trying to figure out what your baby wants and gradually you get to know them and their ways. Massage can bring a closer connection which will help you tune in better to your baby and figure out those cues. Sometimes they are clear and sometimes more subtle but some time focused on them, interacting and watching their responses will help you grow in confidence that you do know what they need.
More than massage
Babies might enjoy their massage, but there is only so long you can massage for. We might love a 60 minute massage but babies not so much. When I teach we do a maximum of 15 minutes of massage and we build up to that so the first weeks will be more like 8-10 minutes. So you will get lots more in your class too. I can’t speak for all classes but I include some movements to help calm and soothe as well as aid development, time to learn more about your baby and how you can help them learn, time to focus on your core and pelvic floor recovery and time for some very gentle postnatal stretches.
All of those things are amazing for your baby. What about you?
When your baby is still new you might feel anxious about going out together. Coming to a class might feel quite scary – what if they need to feed, what if they cry, what if you need to change a nappy, what if everyone else knows what they are doing, what if……… But a baby massage class can be the safe space you need.
I love my classes! A small group of mums with similar age babies, chatting, supporting, encouraging, sometimes crying but just feeling you can be honest about this new life you are figuring out. There is no judgement just a genuine desire for everyone to feel confident and capable. If you are looking for a class look for one where there is time and space for those conversations and connections to be made. I see so many friendships form over the weeks and so much confidence come from hearing others experiences.
If you are local to me I would love to welcome you to classes, if you aren’t look at what is on offer around you and hopefully you can find somewhere to enjoy all the amazing benefits of massage with your baby.