Baby massage: a world of riches to explore!

https://valeriadegrandis.com/le-massage-neonatal-une-richesse-a-explorer/?lang=en

Let’s discover together the benefits of baby massage and how it can be a resource for all parents.

In 2017 I started my journey to become a baby massage instructor. I often talk about how important this training has been for me, in terms of the benefits that newborn massage brings to both babies and parents.

But also because it has helped me to understand what it really means to share our feelings with our babies and to begin a loving relationship that sometimes is not automatic.

Many parents, in fact, do not really know where to start when they hold their baby in their arms for the first time. How to meet him/her, how to take care of him/her, how to behave with him/her. In more extreme cases, some people do not recognise and/or do not accept the idea of becoming a parent, for a variety of reasons or because of psychological problems.

It is clear that a massage course for newborns is not only for struggling parents: even if we became parents for the first, second, third, fourth time (or even more!) and we feel good in our role, the massage can only strengthen our joy and our ability to communicate with the love language .

But let’s have a look to the most important benefits of baby massage:

Promotes parent-child attachment

From the very first weeks, as I mentioned in the introduction, the foundations for a strong parent-child relationship are laid.
We call it bonding, derived from the verb “to bond”, which means to attach, to bind, to link.

In the child care field, it has been used to define the connection between parents and babies: that situation in which the parent, through his or her actions, including practical acts such as rocking, caressing, feeding, comforting and, more concretely, washing, dressing, walking, playing, interacting, etc., lays the foundations for the transmission of concrete messages to the baby, who then feels welcomed and understood.

These actions, however, are purely physical, practical, and most of us are able to do them automatically. The other side of the bonding coin, therefore, concerns the purely emotional sphere of both parties:

  • looking at our baby
  • talking to him/her gently and telling constantly how happy we are to have him/her in our arms
  • smiling at her
  • holding him warmly when criing
  • keeping skin-to-skin contact
  • massaging her
    are all actions that stimulate endorphins, make us feel good and give the baby those non-verbal, non-obvious messages that fill all hemispheres of the attachment.
Solution for colics

During a massage course we are taught to massage the belly. The movements of this massage greatly help to relieve the discomfort of colic, which in the vast majority of cases occurs in the second month.

Many people try to explain the colic of the newborn, and we can find two categories: there are those who consider that colic is a real phenomenon and those who affirm the opposite.

I also believe that, in the vast majority of cases, we confuse colics with the baby’s de-stressing in the evening: when the sun goes down, in fact, many babies start to be very prone to crying.

This is mostly related to the neurological immaturity of the baby, who feels the need to evacuate all the emotions and sensations he has experienced during the day. On the other hand, it tends to reflect the anxiety of the parent, tired from the day and worries about the upcoming night.

Belly massage works on two fronts: firstly, it restores the emotional balance for both parent and baby. Secondly, if there is indeed colic due to some air in the tummy, the mechanics of the massage will certainly allow the air to flow out.

Promotes relaxation

As the massage encourages relaxation for both parent and baby, it is very helpful to do a few massage sequences during the bedtime routine.

I generally recommend massaging the legs, as this is the part that babies are most likely ok with, even when they are tired. Alternatively, belly or back massage. One area of the body is more than enough, as we don’t want to make the routine itself too long.

Conclusions

These are just three examples of what massage can do for you. As you surely understood, I really invite you to get in touch with the closest instructor to you, to learn all the other countless positive elements that a massage course could bring to your lives as parents.

For people living in Geneva, I also offer home sessions, as well as group sessions (visit here if you are interested).

Otherwise, contact your nearest family counselling centre or ask your midwife or gynaecologist to put you in touch with the closest instructor to you!

You can also call the IAIM office (here is their website).

You will not regret it!

How many of you have done a newborn massage course (individual or group)?

How did you find it?

EARLY BEDTIME FOR BABIES AND CHILDREN!

https://valeriadegrandis.com/why-an-early-bedtimes-recommended-to-help-babies-and-children-sleep-better-and-more/?lang=en

From scientific observations to common sense rules: how children who go to bed early in the evening sleep better… and longer!

Baby sleeping

Almost every time I ask parents to put their children to bed very early in the evening (between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.), they promptly ask me:

“Isn’t it better to put him to bed later? At least he’ll wake up later?”

“Are you sure she won’t wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning?”

The answer to the first question is: no, he won’t wake up later. Most likely he will wake up at the usual time, if not earlier!

The answer to the second question is also negative. Far from it! Instead, we will create the basis for her to wake up later!

What science suggests

I would like to refer you to a good article (taken from a scientific study) on the correlation between early bedtime and longer nights for babies.

During the study (here the link to the article*), researchers analysed the sleeping habits of 24 infants. The needed to follow two simple recommendations: follow a solid pre-bedtime routine and put them down at an appropriate time to promote a longer night’s sleep.

Using actigraphs they then examined how routine and bedtime could be associated with total duration of nighttime sleep at 6, 15 and 24 weeks of age.

As the children got older, sleep onset was earlier and bedtime routines became shorter (p’s < 0.05). Infants fell asleep between 7 and 8 p.m. in 24% of nights. Furthermore, infants with a solid routine and who were not fed to sleep had good sleep averages as early as 6 weeks, which gradually improved over the following weeks.

The researchers concluded that babies who fell asleep earlier also slept longer at night. So keeping babies awake longer in the hope that they will wake up later can be counterproductive.

The common sense

Even without bringing up specific studies, sometimes we can simply stop and look at our babies and try to identify when we should put them down. I am talking about the famous wakeful windows: a very young child is physiologically unable to stay awake for too long.

His body starts to secrete melatonin naturally after a certain period of wakefulness (depending on his age, he will be able to stay awake for two, three or four hours in the afternoon).

Going beyond that limit will mean losing the benefits of melatonin, which will be replaced by cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which will not allow him to go to sleep peacefully and have a good night’s sleep.

Putting a child to bed at 9:00 or 10:00 pm is equivalent to telling an adult to go to bed every night after midnight. This might be possible at first.

With the time, a lot of tiredness would start to accumulate, with the effects we can imagine: irritability, hyperactivity, lack of appetite, big attachement to the parents (not really the pleasant part of the attachement…)

To convince you, I can also tell you that sleep is more restorative during the first part of the night. Putting your children to bed earlier gives them more quality sleep, creating the conditions for a more restful second part of the night.

They will then be able to fall back asleep in the early hours of the morning, with a definitive awakening after 6 o’clock.

The importance of the COUPLE

Finally, I always like to point out to the parents that putting children to bed early in the evening means that the couple will have more quality time. Imagine having time together after a tiring day of work, childcare and housework.

Being able to have a quiet dinner together, watch a film or simply have a chat about the day. You will also go to bed feeling good, sleep better, wake up the next morning with new energy and the desire to do lots of nice things for yourself and your family!

These steps are not very easy for all families. Sometimes you need help, specialised advice (you can look at my services). Before moving on to this, however, you need to be super aligned.

My initial advice is to have a good “family meeting”, during which the couple faces up to their weaknesses and needs and decides what to do. After that, you can focus on action.

Happy family
happy family, young child, father, mother

Always remember that everything we do with our children needs a solid foundation: the foundation is the agreement within the parental couple. Agreement is followed by help, serenity and the energy to change things!