Touch: Our First Language
One of the first things that any birthing person does is reach down for their baby when they’re born and snuggle them! In many ways, touch is our first language. We touch and hug our babies, our kids, our partners and our friends in order to soothe them. Research shows that gentle and loving touch can help small babies grow stronger and feel less anxiety. Infants who experience regular touch show 50% more eye contact and are 3 times more likely to have an overall positive expression than infants who do not. Those are wild stats!
These days, as soon as babies are born, they’re usually placed on the mother’s chest or abdomen to give them as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. Close contact between you and your baby helps calm your baby’s breathing and body temperature and helps bring you emotionally close. We love the Sleep Belt for this reason; it really helps assist with skin to skin contact right after birth and in the early weeks of your baby’s life.
Massage can be incredibly empowering because it can help you “learn your baby” and gives you such a unique way to respond to your baby’s needs. Through the experience of massage, your baby learns what healthy, respectful touch is by being touched in that same way. Besides, who doesn’t love a happy naked baby? 🙂
Some of the Incredible Benefits of Infant Massage Include:
- Enhances bonding
- Relaxes the infant, soothes your baby, and reduces crying
- Aids Growth and Development
- Promotes Communication
- Aids in deeper, longer sleep
- Aids digestion and helps relieve colic, gas and constipation
- Improving sensory integration
- Encouraging midline orientation
- Increases daily weight gain
- Enhances your baby’s adjustment to nighttime sleep, and helps your baby sleep more deeply
- Relieves nasal congestion and teething discomfort
- Helps develop good muscle tone, coordination and suppleness
- Enhances body awareness
- Boosts the immune system
- Improves skin texture
- Helps calm and relax both you and your baby
- Boosts your confidence in handling your baby
Benefits of Massage for Preterm Infants Include:
- Provides the same benefits as full term babies
- Improved weight gain, ability to regulate body temperature, blood circulation
- Improved neurological development
- Aids in reducing the length of time spent in the hospital
The benefit of massage for children are the same as for adults. Did you know that in addition to massaging your baby at home, you can bring them in for a massage with a massage therapist? Massage therapy for children introduces them at an early age to the need to take care of their bodies. Children also learn when they may need to look for therapy.
In addition to skin-to-skin contact, research has shown routine touch and massage leads to improved cognitive performance, and increased alertness and attentiveness in children. Yet, according to the JOHNSON’S® Global Bath Time Report, only 23% of parents around the world say that touch can be extremely important to baby brain development.
Your touch contributes to your baby’s first emotional bonds. This contact helps build a foundation for emotional and intellectual development later in life. The next time you give your baby a massage after their bath, rest assured knowing that this means so much to their development and can have a lasting positive impact.
How we can Help
We offer regular infant massage classes at West End Mamas, taught by one of our RMTs. It’s an amazing way to learn how to massage your baby! If you can’t make it to one of those, you can also bring your baby in for a 30-minute infant massage; you can also use that appointment time to learn how to massage your baby at home.