In addition to the physical benefits it brings, baby massage can create an incredible bond between the parent and his child. It's an art we should learn ... and transmit!
In many cultures of the world, baby massage is an age-old practice, passed from mother to daughter for millennia. In these underdeveloped countries, where food is too often deficient for lack of resources, children still have access to emotional food that even the most balanced diets can not replace ...
For several years, the scientific research of Dr. Tiffany Field, attached to the Touch Research Institute of Miami, is proving to us scientifically what the wisdom of these cultures showed us. Among other things, they highlighted the fact that newborns who were regularly massaged were calm and happy, fell asleep more quickly and that their systems (circulatory, respiratory, digestive and nervous) benefited from better stimulation.
Although it is an undeniable advantage to have some basic knowledge of baby massage techniques, it is important to understand that the essence of this practice is skin-to-skin contact, a special moment between you and your baby. your child. So you can massage your child by letting your instinct guide you, and by listening to your child. You will quickly discover that he will appreciate some movements more than others. In the beginning, do a small routine of movements of about 10 minutes then gradually increase the time of the massage until 20 or 30 minutes, according to the interest of your child.
In a clinical trial, 40 babies aged one month to three months were randomly assigned to 15-minute massage or rocking sessions twice a week for six weeks. The children in the massage group gained more weight and demonstrated a calmer temperament and better emotional and social dispositions. They were also less stressed, cried less and fell asleep more easily.
The ideal conditions for a good massage
- The right moment: Try to find the moment when your child is most receptive to receiving a massage. He must be in a calm watch period. Depending on the children, this can be before or after a nap in the day, or after bathing in the evening. We must be attentive to the signs he gives us. So, a baby who smiles, plays with his hands, is relaxed, looks for his parent's gaze and babble is available to receive a massage. Conversely, a baby who stiffens, cries, grimaces is not. Also, do not massage a feverish, sick baby who has just been drinking, eating or sleeping.
- The right temperature: It should not be forgotten that the newborn bathed not so long ago at 37 ° C in the amniotic fluid of his mother. It is therefore necessary to massage it in a room warm enough so that it is comfortable naked. You can always keep a small blanket handy to cover parts of your body.
- An atmosphere conducive to relaxation: Choose a quiet place away from the noises and external stimuli to massage your baby. Create a cozy atmosphere by dimming the light and listening to soft music. After a few massage "sessions", your child will recognize the signs that tell him that it is soon time for the massage.
- Oils: It is better to use a vegetable oil, ideally cold pressed, so that there is no danger of absorption for the baby who puts his hands to his mouth. Grape seed oil is the most recommended because it is soft, very fragrant and low risk of allergic reaction. Mineral oils or creams (baby oils for example) should be avoided since they are absorbed by the body and present risks of intoxication. It is also not suggested to use scented oils or creams as this masks the body odor and it is largely through smell that the newborn creates a bond with his parents. According to some studies, essential oils could cause cutaneous or respiratory reactions in infants, so they should be avoided.
Permission: Do not hesitate to ask your child's permission to massage, even if it is a newborn baby. This will gradually teach him to understand that he has the right to refuse any physical contact, if he does not want it. Attach a gesture to your request (for example, touch the child's legs or hips) and your baby will quickly associate this gesture with the start of the massage. He will let you know by smiles and babbling his desire to be massaged.
Infant massage benefits: what you need to know
The human being is in constant relationship with others and with his environment and this interaction goes through the senses. Of all our senses, the most important is undeniably touch.
The sense of touch is also the first to develop in the human embryo.
The skin is the first of our organs to develop and is one of the most important organs. A human being may live blind, deaf, no smell or taste perception, but he can not survive for a moment without the functions provided by the skin.
There is no better way to demonstrate the importance of touch than to watch what happens when you are deprived of it. In the nineteenth century, many children died in their first year of life from an illness called marasmus, the Greek word for "atrophy". Doctors at the time later discovered that this disease was caused by the absence of touch: babies who were not touched regularly stopped feeding and let themselves die.
In addition, an amazing study done in the twentieth century by a researcher specializing in touch, Ashley Montagu, revealed that children deprived of loving touch feel the consequences in their bones: small lines of delayed growth, called lines of Harris, appear at the end of the tibia and radius.
In the early 1930s, the death rate of babies in American orphanages was close to 60%, and this percentage dropped dramatically when nurses were asked to take the children in their arms several times a day. More recently, studies by Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, clearly demonstrate that the weight of premature babies massaged 15 minutes a day increases faster than premature babies who do not are not and their results in tests evaluating motor and cognitive development are superior.
Many touch therapies have proven effective in helping thousands of people regain their composure, heal, feel supported, and benefit from the strength of people around them. Baby massage is becoming more popular with the International Association of Baby Massage, founded in 1981 by Vimala McClure. The benefits of touch in children are felt in many areas.
Touch through massage in newborns and young children promotes harmonious physical development. It promotes the circulation of body fluids. It helps relieve colic, gas, and constipation. It also promotes muscle relaxation and allows relaxation and well-being. Later, the child will be able to relax more easily and be better prepared to react to the stress of life.
Touch reassures and comforts. It stimulates the acquisition of one's own identity and self-respect. Touch means getting in touch with each other and promotes self-esteem. Taking the time to touch your child through the massage, with tenderness, love and sweetness, can show him that we recognize its importance and that it is worth it. It is also giving importance to your need for contact. It is a great opportunity to teach him to receive tenderness, to recognize his needs, to express them and to give himself the right to pleasure.
Effects on communication
The surface of the skin has an unimaginable number of sensory receptors that receive the stimuli of heat, cold, contact, pain ... The skin is our first mode of communication. The newborn massage allows a better interaction between the parent and the child. It is a good time to exchange a message of love with your child, to make confidences, to establish a privileged visual contact, to emit and to perceive new sounds, to release energy and warmth while promoting a better knowledge. one of the other.
Massage promotes the attachment of the child with his parents and will have repercussions later on the development of interpersonal relationships. It is also a great opportunity for Dad to integrate into the mother-child circle by also having a privileged activity with the child.
Now that you know the benefits of baby massage, you can take action!
- Choose a calm environment and a comfortable position for your baby.
- Make sure the room temperature is high enough so your baby is not cold.
- Make sure your baby is awake, calm, comfortable and willing to receive the massage.
- Massage with a vegetable oil, preferably cold-pressed, such as grape seed or apricot oil.
- Apply oil to the palm of your hands and rub them together in front of your baby to warm the oil and make eye contact that will indicate that you are going to massage it.
- Gently massage one part of the body at a time (legs, feet, belly, chest, arms, hands, back, face) while humming his favorite nursery rhymes.
No matter what techniques you use to massage, whether you have learned them in specialized training or from your intuition, stay tuned for your baby. The important thing is that this touch is sincere and filled with love. The latter perceives above all the intention and the love of the gesture that you give him.
There are several excellent baby massage classes available to parents, including the one offered at the Recordings of Montreal . You only have to surf the internet to discover the centers closest to you.
The sense of touch is an integral part of a happy and healthy human being. Take advantage of it!