By Caroline Heckendorf
Baby massage has been practised for centuries and was first introduced into Western society in the 1970s. In the following years massage strokes were researched, studied and refined to provide the basis for how baby massage is taught by certified instructors today. During a class, an instructor will lead mums and bubs through a sequence of strokes based on Swedish massage, Indian massage, yoga and reflexology principles – only you will massage your baby, allowing enhanced bonding with your baby. You learn not only how to massage your baby, but you also gain confidence in using your voice, movement and other forms of non-verbal communication to help soothe, settle and communicate with your little one.
What are the benefits for baby?
Baby massage promotes bonding and secure attachment by use of eye contact, touch, smell and voice. Your baby’s bond with you is strengthened and deepened during massage and it can help your baby to feel loved, nurtured and secure. Massage also promotes the release of relaxing hormones (serotonin and oxytocin) so your baby will benefit from improved sleep patterns due to the increase in relaxing hormones and a decrease in stress hormones, leading to a calmer, more relaxed baby. In terms of relief, massage helps babies who suffer from gas and/or constipation by gently massaging the tummy to release gassy bubbles. Massage also stimulates various systems in the body including the circulatory system, digestive system, hormonal system, immune system, nervous system and vestibular system, each in turn with its own benefits.
What are the benefits for parents?
Parents benefit from baby massage in many ways too. During the process of massaging your baby, in addition to your baby releasing relaxing hormones, you also release these hormones and experience a decrease in stress hormones, so it’s a wonderful way for you to induce relaxation. Parents will also gain a better understanding of their baby as baby massage encourages quality one-on-one time with bub and the opportunity to start to learn what your baby’s individual cues are and non-verbal communication. This can help with confidence, especially as a first-time parent. Finally, parents will also gain benefit from the strengthening and deepening of the bonding process by spending the time with their baby, connecting with them through touch, eye contact, smell and sound.
What are baby massage classes like?
Baby massage classes provide a very nurturing environment and a space to allow confidence to grow as the bond strengthens between parent & baby. Parents can feel empowered after learning massage, especially knowing they have techniques they can use to help their baby with gas and wind. The social side of the classes provides such a great source of support as parents share stories and reassure each other. Baby massage can become such an enjoyable part of the day with your baby as it provides an opportunity for total one-on-one interaction and allows parents to feel connected to their baby while doing the massage.
About the Author
Caroline Heckendorf is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) and holds a diploma in Remedial Massage and Bachelor of Health Science Degree (Complementary Medicine). Caroline runs Natural Bond Baby Massage (www.naturalbond.com.au), providing classes for mums & bubs, teaching mums (and/or dads) how to massage their babies. Prior to setting up Natural Bond Baby Massage, Caroline was working as a Sports Massage Therapist and Remedial Massage Therapist with well-known sports teams throughout NSW. She was inspired to train to become an Infant Massage Instructor after taking her own unsettled (colic & reflux) baby to massage classes. Caroline is passionate about teaching infant massage and sharing the joy and benefits that can be experienced by both mum & bub. Caroline is certified by IAIM who are endorsed by the Australian College of Midwives, AAMT, AMT and are official partner to the World Health Organisation Maternal & Newborn program. IAIM follows a strict code of conduct.
For more information check out Caroline’s business and website Natural Bond.
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