But honestly, there was a time when I didn’t know it existed either.
There is so much history and evolution incorporated into Infant Massage. Not to mention the biology and nurturing that also comes into play. Many will think that it is a new trend in baby care, but I disagree. Infant Massage is here to stay. But that is my job, to educate caregivers about this "so called trend"; this amazing tool with invaluable, lifelong and far-reaching benefits that is here to stay.
The practice of Infant Massage is ancient and has been evident in history for over 3,000 years in cultures such as Asia, Africa, India, New Zealand and the Caribbean. These cultures believed that one way to promote health and prevent disease was by rubbing, stroking and kneading the body. Still today, this tradition is passed down all over South Asia, as it is thought to instill fearlessness, harden bone structure, enhance movement and limb coordination, and increase weight, all benefits that now can be scientifically proven.
From the moment a child is born, biology allows a beautiful dance to occur between mother and child. This dance not only ensures that the helpless being survives, but that it also thrives. Through a complex collection of chemical exchanges, we find that parents (particularly mothers) are well equipped to provide everything their infant may need. Modern mothers spend months nesting as they prepare for their newborn through exhausted baby registries, when in fact the most beneficial baby gear that they need are their own two hands. Changes to the speed, pressure and direction of your touch will allow you to calm, stimulate, excite and bond with your child. Learning these techniques will allow you to gain an understanding of your infant’s innate body language, thus allowing you to respond to their distress cues before the infant even needs to cry. This advantage to a new mother can be extremely empowering.
The primary sensory organ of an infant is the skin. Development of the sense of touch begins as early as seven weeks after conception. In fact, the amniotic fluid in the womb massages fetuses continuously while mom moves through her day. So, despite the changes to her environment after birth, the baby will find contentment, relief, and experience a calming effect through a mother's sweet embrace. Touch is the first sense we develop and the last sense we lose. Our sense of touch is sense that has the most power to affect who we become and the only sense we literally can’t live without.
There are numerous ways that Infant Massage can benefit a child. These massage techniques can simulate life in the womb for preterm infants that need to complete prenatal growth. It can assist a sensitive child whose nerves are struggling to make sense of their environment. Infant Massage can improve tone in the limbs of child with cerebral palsy and even provide strength to mothers who are struggling with postpartum depression by allowing a hormonal exchange that is needed to reduce anxiety and create bonding between mother and child. Infant Massage can also be invaluable to the parent wishing to end a cycle of violent or neglectful touch by helping her child know what respect feels like right from the start.
Some of the most common issues between parents and infants can be improved through the use of Infant Massage. It can help babies, toddlers, and even your adolescents to sleep better… that lead to parents sleeping better too. Regular massage can ease colic, gas and chest congestion naturally. It can also help your baby build strong neural connections and understand her physical boundaries, the early foundation to self-esteem. It is a tool that has shown to lower levels of stress hormones, as infants can only learn to calm themselves through their experiences. Infant Massage classes teach parents how to give the concentrated skin-to-skin touch and visual interaction that is food for a baby's growing brain. It is so important to set aside focused time for this interaction, especially when life’s schedules are only getting busier.
Infant Massage is a beautiful, amazing and beneficial tool for parents. The power of these techniques was a pivotal element with my own premature twins and it also assisted me personally during early periods of unreasonable hardship. This massage is still part of our routine today, eight years later. It’s a gift that can grow and evolve with your child, enhancing both of your lives and the lives of those around you. The power of your hands to bring respect and nurturing to your life is in infinite.