BABY MASSAGE IS A SIMPLE AND ENJOYABLE WAY TO NURTURE AND GROW THE SPECIAL BOND WITH YOUR BABY
Touch is hugely important to all newborns. At this stage in life, it is the primary way that we communicate and connect with the world and those around us, and without it, we quite simply fail to thrive and grow.
Massaging babies shortly after they are born is an age-old tradition practised in many countries throughout the world, including India and across the African continent, yet it’s something that was only formally introduced to the UK around three decades ago.
Since then, baby massage has grown in popularity with parents and other primary caregivers, not least because we are starting to appreciate the many bene ts it has to o er. As well as being an e ective way to bond and communicate with your baby, positive touch through massage helps to support emotional and physical development, and increases a parent’s con dence in handling and caring for their little ones.
“Baby massage involves the parent carrying out a range of very gentle, rhythmical movements on their baby, including holding, stroking and stretching,” explains Julie McFadden, FHT Registrar and baby massage instructor. “It’s usually taught in a small group setting, with the instructor demonstrating the various techniques on a special doll. The parent then repeats these movements on their own child, who lies on a soft, towel-covered mat on the oor in front of them.”
In most cases, babies wear just a nappy during the massage, and a small amount of oil or cream is applied to the skin – many instructors encourage parents to bring a product that they know is suitable for their baby’s skin.
Through this positive interaction, parents will often start to pick up on certain ‘cues’ in their baby’s behaviour, from turning their head in a certain way to show they don’t like something, to learning what di erent cries mean. Regular massage can also help parents become more familiar with nuances in their baby’s skin, including texture, colour and temperature.
Baby massage is usually o ered as a course of four to six weekly lessons, with each session lasting around 45 minutes to an hour. “In a class situation, it’s not unusual for a baby to fall asleep during a massage routine or to need a feed or nappy change,” explains Julie. “It’s often a case of simply ‘going with the ow’. At home, of course, massage can be carried out at any time that ts in with your baby’s daily routine.” The Federation of Holistic Therapists (www.fht.org.uk) is the UK and Ireland’s leading professional association for complementary, holistic beauty and sports therapists.