Complementing One Another – Baby Yoga and Massage
As very young babies are often quickly over-stimulated, massage can gently introduce a baby to positive touch. As the baby develops and grows accustomed to being touched and can accept more stimulating experiences, the energetic and stimulating yoga exercises are a great follow-on from the massage.
The massage routine is made up of several strokes for different areas of your baby’s body. You are advised to learn one set of strokes for a particular body area per week, for instance, the legs. This gives you the opportunity to become comfortable with how to do the strokes and also allows your baby to become used to massage gradually, if the strokes are practised every day throughout the week. The following week, new strokes for a new area are introduced, while also consolidating the strokes from the previous week. This allows for ample practice week by week. Once all the strokes in the routine have been introduced you should feel confident to give your baby the full body massage.
When your baby is comfortable with the full massage routine, this is a good time to introduce them to the yoga exercises. By then, your baby should already be familiar with many aspects that are shared by both massage and yoga. Both give you the opportunity to:
- Use positive touch with your baby.
- Do exercises with your baby.
- Have special hugs and holds.
- Use nursery rhymes and music.
- Spend special time together.
- Learn about your baby.
- Relax with your baby.
- Play with your baby.
- Have fun together!
Once both the massage and yoga routines have been learned, you will be able to decide which routine best suits you and your baby on that particular day.
Positive Touch For Babies
In this day and age, when there are so many gizmo’s and gadgets to help parents to care for their babies (particularly those that help transport babies around), babies are often manoeuvred from their cot to carry-cot to pushchair and then their car seat and it is not uncommon for a baby to be barely touched at all. This is rather unfortunate for a baby who has, until only a short while before, spent nine months inside the confines of the womb in constant touch with their mum. Once born, there are no more cosy walls and gone is the continual massage received while mum moved around.
Touch is often not sufficiently considered until we can see the profound effects that little or no touch has on a child. Reports in the last century of babies and children who were deprived of touch in orphanages around the world, show us how important positive touch is to the human race.
Throughout life, no matter what the age, being held and comforted are the most healing acts that humans can share. Without realizing, parents instinctively use touch to heal and comfort their children. ‘Rub it better’ is a phrase very often used to reassure a wounded child to stroke the area of the skin that has been affected is an instinctive reaction, which encourages our body to start the natural repair process.
Touch is therefore a fundamental need for everybody, but ‘skin-to-skin’ contact is essential for a newborn baby. It can help with temperature control, stabilizing breathing and heart rate, and increases the well-being of the baby. The inclination to ignore the need for skin-to-skin contact between the mother and baby, which is so common in western societies, may affect the ability of the mother to recognize the non-verbal cues or signs through which the baby is trying to communicate.
A parent’s ability to understand their baby’s cues can be greatly enhanced through baby massage and yoga, allowing the parent to comfort and reassure their baby through positive touch.
Things To Remember
- Touch is one of the first senses to develop.
- Babies need to receive positive touch to thrive.
- The art of massage and yoga have been appreciated for centuries.
- Introduce the massage before the yoga to accustom babies to the concepts of positive touch without over-stimulating them.
- Introducing strokes and exercise gradually each week consolidates learning.