|Babies||Walkers to 2||2s to 3s||3s to 4s|
Overview and benefit
Massage is beneficial to both baby and parent for all sorts of reasons. Massage can help calm a fractious baby, release tension and also help to strengthen the bond between parent and baby. Touch is a powerful first language between carer and baby and enhances the feeling of being loved and secure. Massage can also help to regulate digestive and respiratory systems and improve circulation. It can even help sooth a colicky or constipated baby. Massage will also help the baby become more aware of their body and learn where their body ends and the rest of the world begins.
For the parents and can increase confidence when handling your baby. Promotes a loving first communication between infant and parent and also helps provide a valuable and special focussed time to share to together.
- Song of your choice
Two to three weeks
How it works
This activity teaches adults some basic baby massage which they can enjoy with their baby, enabling baby to experience touch on the whole of their bodies.
What to do in the class
The massage is nice to do as the final element of a class as it is relaxing a calming. Use some nice calm music or a lullaby as a background music. Hush little Baby, or It’s raining it’s pouring or Twinkle Twinkle are nice class music choices. Explain to the parents that massage is best done unclothed in a warm room perhaps after a batch, but that we are going to have a little fully clothed wind down session. Carry out some of the following movements with the babies.
Hello – start with a Hello stroke from head to toes, if you baby is not in the mood they will tell you by stiffening or appearing irritable.
Feet – gently rotate the feet, stroke the tops of the feet in a sweeping downward motion a few times, then focus on the soles in the same way, sweeping down gently with thumb from heel to toe. Apply a gentle pressure to each toe.
Hands – gently rotate the hands, stroking over the backs of the hands and using your thumb to gently circle the palms. Apply a gentle pressure to each of the figures.
Tummy – Gently rub your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction. It is important that you always rub in this direction as this is the direction of the intestinal flow and so will help ease the passage of the contents of the intestines. You can also gently press knees into tummy together and alternatively. This can help to relieve colic and wind.
Head – gently stroke scalp with fingertips as if shampooing (avoid the baby’s soft spot or fontanel). Gently massage ears between thumb and index finger. Trace a heart shape with your thumbs on your babies face finishing at the chin. Place thumbs on eyebrows and gently stroke outwards
Back – Place baby on their tummy and gently stroke down the back with your hands either side of the spine. Massage in small circles (avoid pressing the spine directly). Massage shoulders in small circular movements. Use your fingers like a rake down the babies back.
Pick up your baby and hold close for a big cuddle.
Adaptations for older/younger children
None required. Older babies may be very mobile and if they start to crawl away they are probably not up for massage so just cuddle or let them explore.
What to do in a nursery setting
This element requires a one to one interaction if this is not possible then you will need to stick to massage rhymes.
Lots of the MAD songs contain elements of massage within them that can be done as an alternative to the movements described above
- Round and Round the Garden
- I hear thunder (use fingers to touch ears and then pitter like rain on the body – this kind of massage is called ‘tapotment‘ )
- 1 2 3 4 5 – Gently massage and manipulate fingers during the song
- This Little Piggy – Gently apply pressure to each of the toes or fingers
The following advice and information was presented to MAD Academy franchisees at Termly Training March 2012 by Sarah Langley, Community Nursery Nurse, trained in IAM Massage.
Sarah introduced us to some of the benefits of massage, before showing us some key massage moves. Some simple massage moves can easily be incorporated into your baby classes, particularly in the warm ups. You are not trying to give the babies a proper massage, but just to use some of the moves which are so beneficial to young children and which parents could develop into a massage routine at home if they want.
Benefits of baby massage:
- Improved circulation
- Stimulate nervous system
- Aids digestion and can help with colic
- Improves muscle tone
- Can help sleep
- Improves sinuses
- Improves bonding
- Produces happy hormones
Important things to remember:
Every baby is different and will react differently to massage – so listen to your baby and watch for signals as they respond. If they don’t seem to want something, don’t do it. If doing proper massage, have everything to hand, strip baby completely, have a warm and darkened room and a fragrance free natural oil such as olive oil or vegetable oil. Don’t break contact till the end of the massage
Using massage in class
There are lots of massage moves you can incorporate into your warm up, particularly on the legs (see the Leg Massage Sheet). There are also some gentle movements which are ideal. These stretch and align baby’s limbs and are also really good for left/right brain alignment. See the Gentle Movement sheet for some ideas to use in class
Infant massage – a handbook for loving parents by Vimala McClure
The Science of Parenting by Margaret Sunderland (Has a good chapter on massage and the brain)