It is important to ask a baby’s permission before starting to massage. Babies should be shown the same respect for their bodies and personal space as adults. This is important as a baby may not always want a massage and therefore will not enjoy it. An unwanted massage could cause the baby to become unhappy and consequentially a parent is likely to feel upset or stressed. Babies are able to tell parents if they would like a massage through subtle body language and vocal sounds. It is important for the parent to watch for these signals and cues when starting to massage and throughout the massage so that the parent is able to massage in accordance with the baby’s wishes.
In addition, the baby learns to enjoy the experience of touch and knows its parent is listening to him/ her. By observing these signals and cues in massage the parent can learn to communicate with their baby and interpret what the baby wants in other scenarios which helps to aid the overall communication process between the parent and baby. There are a number of signals which can be observed during the massage which indicate that baby is relaxed during the massage or is becoming stressed. These are taken from research undertaken at the Touch Research Institute, Miami, Florida.
Signals that baby is relaxed during massage:
- Eye contact
- Relaxed Limbs
- Hands at Mid Line
- Hands to Mouth
- Cooing/ Vocalising
Signals that baby is experiencing stress during massage or is uncomfortable:
- Jittery Limbs
- Lack of Eye Contact
It is a good idea to become aware of these signals and cues and learn to interpret their baby’s needs during massage and at other times.
Familiarising baby with touch
Nearly all babies enjoy being touched. Touch is a way of communicating love and security as well as helping a baby’s development. It may take time for babies to enjoy having a massage however as massage it is a different way of touching and can be both stimulating and relaxing. As with all things with new, baby massage needs to be introduced slowly and at the baby’s pace so that the baby feels comfortable and secure with what is going on. Some babies may immediately respond to massage enjoying a long massage on the first attempt. Other babies may not like having their clothes taken off and may find massage over stimulating. It is important with the latter type of baby not to rush the process. This is why we teach baby massage over four weeks rather than in one session. It is perfectly fine to stop if baby has had enough massage. Two minutes massage on a receptive baby has a much greater benefit than ten minutes massage on a baby who has tried to tell his/her parent that he/she has had enough massage and the parent has not listened. Ultimately massaging a baby who does not want a massage is likely to agitate the baby and the parent. There are a number of techniques you can teach your class to undertake with their babies to help the babies become familiar and comfortable with touch.
Skin to Skin Contact – Babies enjoy skin-to-skin contact. Having parents set aside time in their day to spend with their babies having skin-to-skin contact is a good way to get baby to become familiar with skin contact. It also helps to relax both parent and baby.
Touch through clothes – Some small babies do not like having their clothes removed. Gently stroking a baby’s back through clothes can help him to become comfortable and familiar with touch.
Relaxed Touch – One method to introduce touch to babies which is particularly effective with sensitive babies is called relaxed touch. Instead of massaging the baby, the parent should just hold the baby’s limb or place a hand on the baby’s stomach or chest for a few moments. Whilst the parent is doing this the parent should be gently reassuring the baby and telling the baby to relax. The parent should try and make eye contact with baby and should soothe baby. This helps to communicate to the baby that touch is soothing and relaxing. It can also help to calm babies who are fussing.
Blossom & Berry’s mission is to grow babies with love, touch, responsive care and positive interaction. We create nurturing experiences for parents and babies to deepen connection and confidence. We focus on touch as a way to support infant and maternal mental health as we believe this is the foundation for health and happiness. Blossom & Berry was born out of love!
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About Blossom & Berry
Blossom & Berry offers expert training, support & resources on baby massage, yoga and parent and baby wellness for professionals & parents across the world.
Blossom & Berry training is designed to give you everything you need to succeed. It gives you a complete teaching practice and mentorship program in a box.
Our training is the most comprehensive teacher training and business package on the market with no restrictions on what you can do and no ongoing licence fees ever.
“I would love to invite you to join my network of over 1000 teachers across the world sharing the benefits of nurturing touch and connection with parents and babies.”
Gayle Berry – Master trainer and international expert on baby massage and yoga, founder of Blossom & Berry.
Your success is our success and having a transformational and nurturing experience is key.