Baby massage can be described as loving, nurturing touch – a warm and gentle interaction between parent and baby, and a way of expressing love. Massage is relaxing and enjoyable for both, it enhances baby’s emotional and physical development, and deepens loving communication.

Baby massage is a dance between you and your baby. It’s not something you do TO your baby – it’s something you do WITH your baby. Some days it’s a waltz, sometimes its rock ‘n roll. This is not a chore. You need to be flexible and creative!

Work with what your baby gives you!

Your hands are the only experts you need plus lots of love and good intentions.

Massaging your baby is relaxing for you and helps you cope with the stresses of early parenting.

The Benefits of Baby Massage are numerous:

  • The sense of touch is what massage is all about and this will encourage whole brain learning – touch builds a better brain for your baby.
  • Massage promotes a nurturing relationship that helps form positive associations of touch. It is a start for creating space for talking and sharing later. For mothers it is a way of increasing her self confidence in the handling of her baby as well as creating feelings of oneness. It increases the mother’s release of prolactin, the mothering hormone which strengthens her parenting instincts and promotes caring behaviour.
  • Massage promotes the general development of the child and stimulates all the child’s systems. It balances and strengthens the immune system by reducing stress levels and hormones, making the body less vulnerable to disease.
  • It promotes myelination of nerves throughout the body & stimulates all the senses. Relaxing and calming hormones are released which promote deeper sleep. Growth hormones are also increased. Babies who are massaged seem to gain weight better. This is especially true of premature babies.
  • Massage promotes deep and rhythmic breathing and is helpful with most gastro intestinal problems such as wind, spasm and colic, teething and sleeping problems.
  • Stress is a natural part of a baby’s life. Babies can easily become over stimulated and disorganized. Massage helps babies’ practice handling input and responding to it with relaxation. Daily massage helps raise the stimulation threshold for most babies. The ability to relax at will is a useful skill and the earlier a child learns it the easier it will become.
  • Massage helps babies release pent up tension. Massage improves baby’s body image and suppleness and increases the time baby spends in quiet alert state – the time when baby is most receptive to learning.
  • Baby massage is very interactive. There is a lot of giving and receiving and loving between parent and child which strengths the bond between them. Massage helps build a relationship based on love and caring, that will last a lifetime.
  • Massage will also help heal any birth trauma; your baby will have the opportunity to ‘let off steam’
  • Massage helps your baby learn about her body and the how it works in the world.
  • Your baby’s behaviour will be more settled.

Massage is a gift that you can keep on giving even as your child grows – no one is too old for a nurturing massage. The routine with its strokes will grow with you and your child, and the adaptation will be as gradual as your child’s development.

Contributed by Tina Otte, certified baby massage instructor, Childbirth Educator and Midwife
Tel: 011 782 57900