Stephanie Gross from the award winning Gymboree Play and Music St Albans discusses the benefits of Infant Massage for you and your baby. Gymboree can help your child learn, thrive and have fun.
Why is Infant Massage so important?
The first year of life is extremely important in terms of the baby’s psychological development. It is during this period, that the sense of basic trust is formed. Touch is our most primal sense and is associated with the largest organ in the human body—our skin. Of all the senses to develop, touch is the first and begins before the baby is born. In the first few months of life, touch is used more often than hearing, sight, or smell as a way to learn about the physical world and to develop close, meaningful relationships.
Maternal attachment is a unique, tender loving relationship that develops between the mother and the baby; its consistency leads to the development of feelings of trust in the baby as a result.
In situations where infants are separated from their parents, such as war or famine, the detrimental effects of touch deprivation are evident. Blackwell (2000) states that “at the beginning of the 20th century, in war-torn Germany, infant mortality in residential care was as high as 71.5%. The reported cause of death was termed hospital-ism, which is described as a lack of stimulation by an adult caregiver rather than death by poor nutrition or insufficient medical care”. A more modern example where touch deprivation occurs is in the neonatal intensive care unit. Infant massage has been employed in both of these kinds of environments and has successfully mediated the potentially negative consequences (Field, 2001).
The purpose of the International Association of Infant Massage is to promote nurturing touch and communication through training, education and research so parents, caregivers and children are loved, valued and respected throughout the world community (IAIM).
Infant massage is a longstanding parenting tradition in many cultures such as Indian and African and has been practised in the UK since the late 1990s. Infant Massage is a gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby’s body using your hands. Touch is a powerful communicator because it often mirrors our own feelings toward another individual. Ultimately, infants are able to sense how their parents feel about them by the manner in which they are touched. Massaging your baby provides a wonderful opportunity to express your love whilst meeting the need of touch and affection that is so essential to the healthy development of babies.
The IAIM massage course draws from both the Indian and Swedish massage traditions as well as incorporating principles from yoga and reflexology.
Benefits for your baby:
• Helping your baby to feel safe and securely attached
• Helping your baby to feel more loved, valued and respected
• Reduced crying and emotional distress
• Increased levels of relaxation and longer sleep
• Development of body awareness and co-ordination
• Relief from wind, colic, constipation and teething discomfort
Benefits for you:
• Feeling closer to your baby
• Gaining a deeper understanding of your baby’s behaviour, crying and body language
• Providing an enjoyable opportunity to spend one-to-one time with your baby
• Feeling the relaxing effects of giving your baby a massage
• Increased confidence in your ability to care for and nurture your baby
• Learning a life-long parenting skill
• Opportunity to socialise in a welcoming and supportive environment
Gymboree Play & Music St Albans holds IAIM infant massage courses on-site regularly. The next course starts on Friday 1st November 2019, book your little one’s space today. For more information, please see our website or call us on 01727 831 551.
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If you have any questions about you or your baby’s health, please feel free to contact me at anytime for advice and support.