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The Benefits Of Baby Massages
by Karen Faulkner
Editor's Note from Carol Lawrence & Stacy Toten: When we approached Karen Faulkner to write an article for our Intentional Conscious Parenting blog, we knew after reading it we had to share it with All Things Healing's audience. We felt an obligation as parents, as co-editors and as conscious parenting coaches to share this valuable information with as many people as possible. The benefits of baby massage are numerous, and can have a life altering impact on both parents and baby.
Why baby massage really matters. I’m a Child and Family Health Nurse from Australia and I’ve been teaching parents baby massage for over 14 years. As a midwife I knew it was important but didn’t really understand why. Now that I know why, I think every parent should be taught this marvellous skill. I think its integral to building a relationship and really understanding your baby.
Baby massage is touch at its most basic. It originated in India, we think, many years ago. It has a very spiritual aspect to it and through practice we can learn to really understand our baby. It is mindful and in the moment. Something that our fast paced, technology driven lives, really are not.
I think that’s what initially hooked me, the in the moment stuff! It also seemed a bit mysterious and there was something really powerful about it.
As a Health Visitor, working in a Sure Start area in Salford Manchester, this perception I had was so different to my work reality. We were taught baby massage to work, one on one with fathers in ‘at risk’ families to try and reduce child protection issues. The idea was that if the father massages the baby, he forms a relationship with his baby, which then hopefully helps to protect it. The theory was that it’s hard to hurt something that you’ve formed an intimate bonding experience with. The child protection cases on my caseload numbered 10%. It was huge and overwhelming.
What I witnessed was: learning by both parents of how to read and understand their babies and linking into their cues. It was a light bulb moment. I found that commenting on the reciprocal pleasure father and baby were experiencing really helped the fathers blossom. In England, fathers from a lot of low socio-economic areas are often absent from the parenting role, for a variety of reasons. These fathers blossomed and looked forward to my visits at their home.
Babies beneﬁt from touch in many ways. As well as enhancing the infant parent relationship and bonding, it also has a beneﬁcial effect on the immune system and circulation. Premature babies that are massaged are found to grow more than babies that aren’t. It helps the immature digestive system by reducing colic and wind and treating constipation and reﬂux.
When you massage your baby you really look into their eyes. We know that direct eye contact builds connections in the baby’s brain and connects the synapses that cement emotional intelligence. So never underestimate the power of baby massage. It’s so much more than just a series of strokes with some lovely oil.
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About the Author
Karen Faulkner is a child and family health nurse.
Nurture Parenting Solutions, was established in March 2011 by Karen Faulkner. A Sydney (Australia) based parenting support service that is located in the Inner West and Eastern Suburbs. Karen is a Child and Family Health Nurse and Registered Midwife with 24 years experience. She trained in England as a Nurse and Midwife at large teaching hospitals in Leeds and London; attending University of Manchester to study as a BSc (Hons) Community Specialist Practitioner/Health Visitor and Nurse Prescriber. She also holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Bolton Institute, UK.
Connect with Karen on Facebook and on her website.