Touching and cuddling with a baby feels like a joy to many moms, dads, and other caregivers. When I was looking for other ways to connect with my baby, touch was my go-to, as it is one of the first ways that a baby begins to develop communication skills with a caregiver. I signed up for a baby massage class and was pleasantly surprised with what I found. The class was not always easy however, and some challenges presented themselves along the way.
If you are thinking of signing up for a baby massage class some of the challenges you might face are your baby crying during massage time. Also for some of the massage moves where you unbutton your baby’s diaper to reach their lower back and lower abdomen be prepared for the potential for your baby to poop on you. The last challenging aspect is that babies are very wiggly. It is harder to give a massage to a wiggling baby that won’t hold still, rather than to an adult, because the wiggles throw the massage moves off.
These challenges do not come up too much, but when they do, it is nice to be prepared with how to deal with them. For the messy diaper obstacle you can have your diaper laying right underneath and a change of clothes and wipes at the ready. For the crying aspect, it is important to remember that baby massage is not meant to be used to soothe a crying baby. Instead, one should use alternative soothing methods and use baby massage to bond during more happy moments. The challenging aspect of crying for me, is often I was not able to get in all the massage in that I liked before my baby started crying, and she was not always balanced on each side as a result. It is possible to learn to be more relaxed about this. Lastly, for dealing with wiggly-ness, I interpreted that as a part of the bonding aspect of the massage time- as it was her massage, her way. I took time to enjoy her wiggles and smiles and let my massage to my baby be interactive in that regard.
Other things I learned in baby massage include the importance of using oil (I used a blend) so as not to create friction when doing a massage. Also, the massage does not need to be super gentle, in fact babies enjoy a firmer touch because it reduces their level of ticklish response, and as most of you know, being tickled during a massage can be quite annoying.
Babies are just like us. When we get a massage on a bad day, we are more likely to open up and talk to that person about our day. This is a form of trust and bonding. Although, a baby can’t talk to us about their day, you can see in a baby’s eye the form of trust and reliance when receiving a massage. Because babies rely on caregivers for so much of their care every day, it is so wonderful for them to realize the joy of massage in a trusting way.
There are many how-to guides on baby massage out there, but I recommend taking a class if you get a chance from someone who is trained in baby massage because you can really learn the basics best by practicing on your baby and they can observe you as you begin. Remember that the massage you are giving to your baby is different than a body worker such as chiropractor trained in craniosacral therapy. That professional would be doing joint manipulations, while you are more practicing a form of loving touch for the sake of joy and touch. Just like adults, both forms can complement each other and have many benefits for baby. This includes helping baby to gain weight and catch up developmentally.
I truly enjoyed my experience with baby massage, but I also realize that it is a practice. It is a special way to connect with another human being, but it takes discipline and patience just like any other practice that is worthwhile. I noticed after practicing baby massage on my baby, her digestion improved and she warmed up to me even more.
The biggest piece of knowledge to keep in mind is the purpose, which is to enhance the bond between you and your baby. Have fun and enjoy your special massage time with your baby. Everyone’s experience is unique, but with these simple tactics, you will be able to combat challenges that may arise during a class you may decide to take. You will be prepared and succeed in the baby massage process, whether you decide to take a class or practice it on your own.