THE FIRST LANGUAGE
Touch has been called the ‘first language’. The sensory system supporting touch and bodily sensations, such as heat and cold, is the first to develop in humans. Hence, it does not require a leap of imagination – really just a baby step of logic – to understand its importance in the first days, weeks and months of life.
A TIME TO BOND
According to Ms Kang Phaik Gaik, Head of Parentcraft/Lactation at Alvernia Parentcraft Centre, besides creating happy moments for parents and their babies, baby massage can have a direct impact on babies’ comfort, well-being and even their adult lives.
“Research has shown that mothers who stroke, touch and massage their newborn babies help them gain weight, reduce stress, sleep soundly and be more attached to their mothers,” she said. Furthermore, babies who are cuddled and touched grow up to be calmer and better-adjusted adults.
The four main benefits of baby massage can be summed up as:
• Stimulation of all the senses and all physiological systems of the body
• Helps baby’s body to produce the ‘calming hormone’ that promotes deeper sleep and reduces stress
• Relief of minor discomfort from conditions such as wind, colic, constipation, mucus and teething pain, empowering the parents to help their baby in a simple way
• Helps to enhance parent-baby bonding, allowing the parent to communicate his or her love through the nurturing touch
SAFE FOR ALMOST ALL NEWBORNS
Ms Kang emphasised that baby massage is not about treatment. It’s all about the nurturing touch, something that all babies need from the very beginning of life.
“It is a cue-based programme, so we instruct parents to read cues and respond according to these cues and behavioural state. In accordance with those cues, we sometimes adjust the massage or suggest alternatives to massage such as containment hold or still touch,” explained Ms Kang. The baby massage classes are conducted at the Alvernia Parentcraft Centre to new parents and infant caregivers.
PREPARATION BEFORE A MASSAGE
Ms Kang has a few tips on setting the scene for a relaxing and satisfying massage session for baby and parents.
1. Before you start, ensure nails are short and trimmed
2. Remove all jewellery
3. Find a conducive environment that is warm and draught-free
4. Play soft music – you may also talk or sing to your baby during the massage
Whether it’s to lull your baby to sleep or put him or her in a playful mood, baby massage is effective, enjoyable and satisfying for both mother and child.