Twenty years before I trained as a massage therapist the seed was planted. Frederick Leboyer published his book “Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage”, a moving, photographic essay illustrating a young mother in Calcutta, Shantali, sitting on the ground, massaging a beautiful attentive baby on her outstretched legs. And so began in the western world a new interest and growing understanding of how massage can honor that awareness and foster deeper connection between parent and child. A classic!
I was given a copy of “Loving Hands“ celebrating the adoption of my son who was just 2 at the time. I thought it was an intriguing idea, so following the pictures of Shantali and her baby, I began to massage John. We learned together that thoughtful, attentive massage gave him the opportunity to tell me all about himself and what he was feeling long before he had developed enough language to tell me with words.
So here we all are, 38 years later… and thanks to the internet ... a list of Benefits of Massage for Infants, Babies and Children from the website of the International Loving Touch Foundation – an organization that trains baby massage instructors in the US.
• Improves general well-being
• Improves overall functioning of the gastrointestinal tract
• Promotes relaxation and helps babies self-regulate calm, which reduces crying
• Helps to normalize muscle tone
• Improves circulation
• Enhances immune system function
• Improves midline orientation
• Helps to improve sensory and body awareness
• Enhances neurological development
• Helps baby/child to sleep deeper and more soundly
• Helps to increase oxygen and nutrient flow to cells
• Helps to improve pain management; can relieve discomfort from teething, congestion, gas, and colic
• Enhances release of hormones in the body. The growth hormone can be stimulated which helps weight gain.
• Reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
• Provides all of the essential indicators of intimate parent-infant bonding and attachment: eye-to-eye, touch, voice, smell, movement, and thermal regulation
• Stimulates all of the physiological systems. Massage sparks the neurons in their brains to grow and branch out to encompass other neurons.
Impressive – yet I always smile thinking that we need science to prove that thoughtful, attentive, loving touch is good for babies! Something we mothers all knew in our hearts from the beginning.
We have offered Baby Massage classes at CMMT since 1996. And we renamed it BABYFEST a few years ago to more accurately describe the series of three classes, a group of new moms and babies sitting on the floor together and having way too much fun. And the stories of magical moments continue.
There are a few times in the first years of development when digestion or teething can cause discomfort, pain, or concern for our babies and there are some massage techniques, positioning and movements that can help.
This month we are hosting another Information Open House, sharing these ideas with you and your little one. It's taking place at our clinic on Wednesday November 30 from 10:00-11:30am. Learn massage techniques you can do with your baby to help with their digestion - and a few things to try for teething. This event is free of charge.
While there are books, dvd’s and youtube vidoes that can get you started, consider coming to learn with us. It's more fun.
"Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant; food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins" ~ Frederick Leboyer