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Why is touch important in babies?

The emotional benefits of touch through baby massage 

It has been proven that the physical action of touch and skin on skin contact eases muscular tension in newborn babies. It is known to calm the emotions and helps to relieve some of the trauma and anxiety associated with birth and the new environment. Touching and stroking our new baby helps reduce circulation of cortisol (a stress hormone in the blood stream) if done regularly. It stimulates the release of the bodies natural opiates (endorphins) which subdue pain. Skin on skin contact, touch and baby massage encourages mothers and fathers to be in touch with their baby. It gives them the opportunity to strengthen their relationship and learn how to handle their baby with confidence. It also introduces a unique level of confidence and trust to your relationship with your new born baby.

Touch also promotes attachment with parent and baby which includes maintaining eye contact, kissing, caressing and vocalising which encourage closeness in a relationship​. ​​

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The physical benefits of Developmental Baby Massage

One of the many benefits of baby massage is the healthy growth and development of your baby. Touch is every bit as important as vitamins, minerals and proteins. Therefore babies who are deprived of touch do not thrive. Touching our baby’s bare skin increases the release of growth hormones from the pituitary gland and it improves their circulation. This is due to the muscles relaxing and absorbing blood when they contract, which they help to pump blood back to the heart.​

Muscle relaxation and joint flexibility are also benefits of touch and baby massage. This allows the muscle to relax allowing the free movement of your baby’s joints. Their joint flexibility is vital in enabling them to establish a wide range of physical movements and mobility. Which in turn, helps to reduce limb and joint stiffness in toddler-hood.​

Developmental baby massage helps the stimulation of the vagus nerve of which one branch leads to the gastro-intestinal tract. Here it facilitates the release of insulin and glucose for food absorption. Baby massage can also help the release of the phrenic nerve and the diaphragm to improve respiration. The phrenic nerve can become ‘pinched’ between the ribs, which may cause some of the colic or pain symptoms in babies.

My training with the International School of Developmental Baby Massage and Movement has enabled me to teach the primary preparation for sitting and standing using gravity assisted techniques for stronger structural foundations. This is by focusing on the transitions from sitting positions to 
squatting, crawling, standing and eventually to walking.

Recommended Reading:

skin to skin mum and baby mother and baby after birth wrapped in towel 1024x683 Why is touch important in babies?

Skin-to-skin contact by Unicef

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