The Benefits of Baby Massage

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The Benefits of Baby Massage – The Power of Nurturing Touch

We all know that babies crave being held and carried, but did you know that babies also love to be massaged? Baby Massage is not something new. It has been practiced in India for generations, and it is common place there, for newborns to be massaged on a daily basis. It’s popularity has been growing in the western world for the last couple of decades, which is due in no small part to the work of the International Association of Baby Massage, which is a non-profit organisation. There has been a wealth of research and data showing that nurturing touch, and in particular, massage can have a powerful, positive, and long lasting effect on a baby, and on the relationship between the baby and its primary caregiver.

So, just why is baby massage so effective? When you are massaging your baby, you are actually stimulating their central nervous system. This sets off a chain reaction, which sends signals to the brain to start producing more of the feel-good, relaxation hormone, serotonin, and less of the stress hormone, cortisol. As a result, babies tend to sleep more deeply, and for longer after a massage. Regular massage can lead to a reduction in crying, and a more easily soothed baby in general. Baby Massage also stimulates circulation, bringing more oxygen into the muscles and the lymphatic system, which helps to detox the body faster. The tummy strokes and the colic routine help to stimulate the digestive system, which can help to relieve wind and constipation.

But the best bit is, baby massage is also brilliant for your baby’s emotional well being, and helps deepen bonding and attachment between you and your baby. I have personal experience of this. My daughter Isabelle was born a month early, and in hindsight I was in shock throughout the delivery. Things didn’t go quite according to plan. Luckily she was absolutely fine, but we had a rocky start with breastfeeding. She cried ALOT, and bonding was not easy.

Massaging Isabelle daily really helped us get to know each other, and bond on a much deeper level. Isabelle started to become the happy and chilled out little being she remains to this day (aged 2 1/2!). We both valued that special quality time we had together every day. Babies crave our undivided attention and love to stare deep into our eyes, which helps them get to know us and makes them feel safe. A regular massage routine provides space for this to happen every day.

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Isabelle getting excited about her massage!

So what are my baby massage classes like?

The atmosphere is relaxed, welcoming, and completely baby-led. Feeding, soothing, changing, and anything else a baby needs in class is encouraged. Babies are only encouraged to join in the massage when they are alert, relaxed, and interested. I massage my doll. and you massage your own baby. The course is structured to allow you to dip in and out as needed. Everything is repeated at least once, and there is an opportunity to go over any strokes you are unsure of at the end of each session. Parents are encouraged to try out the massage strokes at home, and are given a laminated manual to help them remember the strokes. Each class ends with tea/coffee, homemade treats, and a chat. It tends to be quite social for the Mums, and many lasting friendships are formed at baby massage class.

There are 5 classes in each course, and the course costs €115. Many health insurance providers in Ireland will allow you to claim back up to €100 against the cost of a baby massage course. If you don’t have health insurance cover, the cost of the class is discounted to €100.

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Acredited with the International Association of Infant Massage

All you need to bring is a couple of baby blankets, and all the usual baby stuff you wouldn’t leave the house without! Everything else is provided at the class.

The next courses are planned for:

Baldoyle Community Centre – Monday 13th June

Om Yoga, Dublin 7 – Tuesday 31st May

Dublin Holistic Centre, D2 – June (date tbc)

claire@stretchityoga.ie

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