May 13 – 18 is National Baby Massage Week. To mark the occasion, here’s an account of the five session course we recently completed.
A chance meeting at a product launch bought me in to contact with Mary Beattie of Baby and Child Massage UK. I’m a big believer in skin-to-skin between young children and their parents (yes, even with dad) and so I was keen to find out more about infant massage.
Baby and Massage UK runs a five-session long massage course and Mary kindly agreed to visit us at home and run through the course with my wife and I plus our baby, Elizabeth. Our eldest daughter Helen also joined in, although I’m come on to her iinvolvement in a moment.
The sessions were supposed to last for five weeks. In reality the British weather, a car crash, a house move and a host of other complications meant our five session course was delivered over a period of about three months but the unflappable Mary took all the delays and complications in her stride. It also gave us more time to practice the various massage techniques.
A quick word about Mary. Mary is a Certified Infant Massage Instructor and Massage in Schools Practitioner. She teaches families, children and classes in London and surrey and studied under Sylvie Hétu, a former president of the International Association of Infant Massage who is widely credited for spreading infant massage across the world.
During the course you learn a variety of strokes starting with the legs and feet and moving on to the stomach, chest, arms and hands, face and back. Many of the strokes will be familiar to anyone with a basic knowledge of adult massage.
Baby Elizabeth often laughs when she is massaged and there’s no doubt she enjoys herself. Although I thought she would enjoy the experience, I expected her to resist certain aspects, such as face massage. To my surprise, however, she has really taken to having her face massaged (it’s worth mentioning that face massage can help if you have a teething baby).
The only aspect that Elizabeth could be a little funny about was the back routine. She didn’t like lying on her front, which is the best position for massaging baby’s back. After a few attempts Elizabeth warmed to this and she is fine with it now.
The massage strokes are also a calming and relaxing influence on Elizabeth. She didn’t always make it through our sessions with Mary because she drifted off to sleep. When she did fall asleep, our sessions continued with one of the dolls that Mary bought with her.
As for our eldest (she’s four years old), I massaged her when she was in a very excitable mood to see what would happen. I say “excitable”, but I’m being very diplomatic; think crawling the walls. To my surprise it calmed her down and it was a huge help in getting her ready for bed.I’ve used the technique a number of times but just be advised there are some subtle difference between infant and child massage.
Infant and child massage can also have a very positive impact on the youngster. In addition to helping with teething, it can help with colic, reduce stress, aid digestion, help the immune system and help sleep.
As a family we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We’ve all benefited from giving massage a go and it’s something we intend to stick with.
There are a whole host of baby massage specialists but you can find out more about Baby and Child Massage UK here.