Around our world at all times and in all civilisations the bond of touch has significance. The shaking of hands, the kiss even the avoidance of touch with strangers tells us the significance of touch.
Touch is closely allied with our most sensitive and sensual sense that of smell also closely linked with taste.
Babies wonder at the world around them and long before the attunement to language and sight, happy babies indulge and delight in what they can touch and smell.
Parents and family too live to exchange touch with baby. The love that flows from and to tiny fingers grasping at an adult thumb. The smiles and coos in both directions from tickling and holding tiny toes. Touch is part of a sane and balanced joyful life.
When touch is carried out with a purpose and in an organised manner we may call it massage. Babies love to be massaged. Women in Eastern Europe used to especially smooth and round their babies heads, women of the south pacific massaged their children with sacred Kukui oil with the added benefit of suncare.
Certainly massaging from birth onward is part of normal parental care. It can help promote a strong parental bond between the family. Getting to know the family perhaps especially the mother is essential to a healthy infant. Bathing too should be considered part of the massage routine. Using the texture of fluffy or other towels is part of sensory stimulation and leads to a contented child one whose sense are satisfied.
Massage for babies and infants should be a simple gentle affair. Each child should be allowed to have a routine developed that meets its emotional needs. Eye contact is always important when commencing baby massage as is a warm and soft environment perhaps the ambience set by mood lighting or music.
For young babies it is best to start massage with the arms and legs. Gentle sliding strokes should be used with very little or no pressure. A good vegetable body oil should be used as a lubricant. The oil chosen will also have hidden benefits and skin care qualities depending on type. After nine weeks or more a small amount of essential oil may be introduced to the massage oil. It is best for security to stick to ready made blends rather than making ones own. Commercial blends often come for specific purposes from dry skin to teething. Yes gums can be massaged too!
After the arms and legs you can progress to the chest and then abdomen and finally after turning the baby the back.
Enjoyable techniques can be learned that makes giving massage easy and safe as well as pleasurable to receive. Baby will love different pressures and strokes. Remember the smallness and suppleness of the child. Always be gentle and smooth. Massage using oil and sweet essences becomes not only beneficial routine buta happy experience for all concerned. Massage is a sharing time and one that helps build a healthy skin, reinforces the immune system and helps toward emotional maturity and balance. The sense of touch and smell our senses of well being from birth.
First published 08/01/2008