What Is Baby Massage?
During this class you will learn a full body massage routine that you can do at home, perhaps incorporating it into baby's bath and bedtime routine, or indeed at any time that suits both you and your baby. Each week we learn a new routine for a different body and we repeat what we learnt the previous weeks. There is ample opportunity for you to practice the strokes. There are times when we would not massage baby, for example if there is any sickness or tummy upset, if there were unexplained lumps or bumps or rashes or if baby had a fever.
So Why Do Baby Massage?
There are vast and numerous scientifically proven benefits of infant massage. The four main reasons for doing a baby massage course are listed below:
During baby massage, circulation throughout the body is promoted; the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all the cells, fibres, nerves, organs, limbs etc is promoted, allowing the cells to rest, repair and grow,thereby working more efficiently.
Massage also speeds up the myelination process (nerve endings being covered in a protective sheath) and transmits more effective messages between the brain and body part.
Massage stimulates the development of the nervous system. Baby’s body is covered in nerve ending quite close to the skin’s surface, and during massage, these nerve endings are stimulated and baby becomes more aware of his body and body parts and where everything is. This is known as proprioception. Proprioception (awareness of body position, ie, where is your foot in relation to your leg) is not present at birth and needs to be learnt through experience, interaction with caregivers and particularly through baby massage.
Massage can help to sooth common ailments that many newborn babies have such as colic, trapped wind, constipation, and other digestive issues. Parents can feel empowered learning massage strokes which can relieve these discomforts. In older babies, parents learn techniques to help with teething pain, colds, and congestion by massaging the face, chest and back.
During times of normal stress, hormones and chemicals (adrenaline and cortisol) are released which enable us to deal with situations, commonly referred to as 'fight or flight'. If these hormones and chemicals are too high in the body, then we experience symptoms of stress – tight muscles, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, upset tummy, disrupted sleep etc. These symptoms are also present in babies during times of stress, eg, when they are crying or have perceived a threat. Research has shown that too much cortisol in the bloodstream can have an adverse effect on development.
During massage, particularly the back massage routine, you activate the vegus nerve, the largest nerve response for the rest and digest systems. The love hormone, oxytocin, is released, which helps to balance out the increased levels of cortisol, thus aiding relaxation in babies. Parents also release oxytocin during massage, which can increase relaxation and calmness in the parent. If the parent feels relaxed and calm, then baby tends to feel the same way.
Bonding between parent and baby is vital in creating a secure attachment for the baby. If baby has a secure attachment and a strong bond with its parents, it is more likely to have positive relationships with other people later in life. A strong bond is vital for the development of emotional and social intelligence in an infant.
5 important things which help to create the bond between baby and parent include:
Eye contact – during the massage class, there is ample opportunity to really look at your baby, to smile at them and observe and recognise their cues. This encourages responsive parenting which leads to a trusting relationship.
Talking to baby – we sing and talk to baby whilst doing the strokes. Baby recognises your voice as they have heard it in the womb. This singing and talking is positive, calm, playful, fun etc
Positive touch – stimulating thousands of nerve endings in the skin,
Exchange of smell between baby and parent – smell is imprinted on each other during skin to skin contact, which can be calming and comforting. We use odourless organic massage oil so as not to impact on this transfer of smell.
Production of oxytocin – the love hormone is produced by both baby and parent during massage. Therefore, both are more chemically attracted to each other which is a natural part of the bonding process and leads to a secure attachment for the baby.
Baby massage enables parents to use all 5 of these concepts to encourage the bonding process in a loving, safe environment and helps to create trust and a sense of security.
What Is Baby Yoga and What To Expect?
In these baby yoga classes, the emphasis is very much on yoga asanas (poses) and movements for your baby. It is an active class and each week we introduce a new yoga routine while allowing plenty of time to practice what we learnt in previous weeks. Babies learn through repetition. We sing a lot during the class, which allows us to positively interact with our baby and it also makes the routines easier to remember! We lift, dip, swing, roll and rock our babies. There are also some lovely yoga inspired stretches for parents and some focused breathing to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing us to rest and relax.
Why Do a Baby Yoga Class?
Baby yoga shares many benefits with baby massage. It also has the added benefits of being absolutely brilliant for activating baby's sense of balance and for developing lovely, strong core muscles (back, neck and tummy muscles). Why not try a class today?
Children and Yoga
In this modern society, filled with the wonders and immediate gratification of technology and with the demands of schooling from such a young age, children move less and worry more.
A lot of time is spent slumped in front of the TV, hunched over the Ipad or smart phone and slouched in front of computer games or the playstation. Once children start school, they are expected to sit still and learn at their desks or sitting still and quietly during carpet time. Generally speaking, less time is spent outdoors playing, running, climbing, skipping, spinning, tumbling, rolling down grassy banks and basically being free.
Children need to move. They need to run and jump and skip and climb and play and exercise. Research has shown that those children who do not have a strong core, tend to fidget more and have lower levels of concentration in the classroom. Exercise and movement are vital in building a strong core.
One form of exercise that is extremely beneficial to children is yoga. During a yoga session, the children bend forwards and backwards, they twist and side bend, stretch, strengthen and balance and they will even spend some time upside down. All of these movements help to
develop a strong back and tummy
activate the vestibular system (your sense of balance)
activate the proprioceptive system, creating a good sense of body and spatial awareness.
Many of the asanas (or poses) in yoga involve crossing the imaginary midline. This midline divides the body vertically into left and right. Any movement or activity that allows the crossing of right into left and vice versa is amazing for bi-lateral communication; in other words, getting the two hemispheres of the brain communicating effectively.
During a yoga session, time is also spent concentrating on breath and relaxation. Learning to take slow, deep breaths is an important skill to teach children so that they are provided with tools to help them cope with and manage stress and anxiety, something which seems to be more and more prevalent these days. Teaching children how to truly relax is so important in our modern, ‘rat-race’ environment.
Yoga also creates a sense of respect for the body, it increases self-confidence and self-awareness. Children’s yoga can also nurture creativity and compassion. Children are encouraged to co-create the class and work together as a whole team. Yoga classes for children are FUN, although time is spent learning asanas, breath work and mindfulness, this is often done with yoga journeys, yoga games, music, drama, acrobatics and partner work.
Let’s get our children moving more. Yes, there is a time for Minecraft and movies, but not at the expense of exercising and all the wonderful benefits it brings to our children’s wellbeing.