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Baby massage has been practiced in parts of Africa and Asia for centuries, but it is only over the last three decades that it has really come to the West.
The first and most powerful massage your baby will ever encounter is birth itself. Nature provides this pressure on the body to kick-start the major organs, preparing your baby for life outside the womb. Baby massage is a way for you to continue this stimulation, but in a much more gentle way. It will encourage your baby’s body to stretch and relax, promote healthy sleep patterns and establish bed time routines as well as alleviating symptoms such as snuffly colds and colic. A beautiful time, for bonding and togetherness.
Baby massage involves touching, stroking, rubbing, and tapping, all of which your baby will find extremely relaxing and soothing. The movements are all easy to learn, and include a section on reflexology. Reflexology points are exactly the same on baby feet as for adults, but of course the points can be a little harder to find on such a small foot, it is such a sweet massage and beneficial.
I am sure you can recall occasions when, not having exercised for a while, you decide to have a bit of a workout. The next day your muscles feel fatigued or may even ache if you worked particularly hard. I think this is what a baby goes through repeatedly over the first few months of life. Each day they work harder than the previous one and their muscles might feel tired and may even ache. Baby massage is incredibly beneficial during this period to encourage these muscles to relax and to allow your baby to develop to their maximum potential.
Your baby may not appear to be doing much during their first few weeks at home. While they seem to do little more than eat and sleep, then eat and sleep again, your baby is growing at the fastest rate they will ever experience. Babies grow while they sleep and this is part of the reason for the huge amounts of sleep observed in the early days. However, one thing you can do in the comfort of your own home is baby massage. It is wonderful to learn and will be a skill you will keep forever and be able to carry out on any future babies you may have.
When to start? You can practice baby massage from birth and continue until your baby is crawling. Many mothers find that giving their baby a massage before bed time/bath time every evening really helps promote regular sleeping patterns and routine.
By offering sessions in your own home, I can give you and your baby individual attention. At a time that suits you and your baby, this really helps as baby feels safe and secure in his or her surroundings. Using my practise baby doll, I will show you the sequences and techniques so you can safely massage your baby at the same time. I provide you with massage oil and hand-outs so you can continue to practise safely. If you so wish I can also incorporate as part of the time some gentle postnatal yoga and relaxation exercises just for you.
As your baby gets older and becomes more mobile and active, they will be ready for baby yoga. This is just as they are showing signs of head control, from about 8/10 weeks old.
In a fun and lively atmosphere, with lots of laughter, you will learn moves and actions to support your baby’s muscles tone, balance and motor skills and help with ailments such as colic and most importantly babies love it and sleep so well after a session as it’s like a little mini workout for them. Many of the actions are carried out in conjunction with nursery rhymes and songs, but don’t worry as I provide the song sheets! We also cover some simple relaxation and stretching/yoga inspired poses for you. These exercises and movements will help tone and strengthen your body, safely after the birth of your baby. The great thing about them is you can practice them at home and baby can help too we also finish on a short relaxation for both you and your baby which is a lovely way to end for both of you….. Blissed babies and contented parents.
The positions and stretches we use encourage your baby’s body to open out. Their body is no longer folding into a foetal position; all the muscles are now elongating and strengthening. They are doing a lot of hard work! During this time baby yoga is particularly advantageous as it helps to build up these muscles and relieve any stiffness or aching that baby might experience. Practicing baby yoga regularly can also make a big difference to yours baby’s development and has some very specific physical benefits in particular on the vestibular system. This is located in the inner part of the ear and is part of the brain that senses motion and balance. As your baby grows, her vestibular system matures, helping her to keep her head upright or to stay standing unaided. It also controls her sense of balance, movement, and coordination. From birth to about 15 months, this system is very active as a baby gains her sense of gravity and knowledge of her physical environment through movement. Bouncing, rocking and swaying activities, which all underpin the movements we practise in baby yoga, all helps develop the vestibular system.
A well-developed vestibular system provides emotional security, good muscle tone and develops auditory language processing and visual –spatial processing.