Baby massage has long been advised by experts as a way for parents to calm and bond with their newborn child.
The gentle, rhythmic stroking has been found to have numerous benefits.
According to the NCT, a 2004 study found that intensive care unit babies who were massage spent less time in hospital, had slightly better scores on developmental tests than babies who weren’t massaged and had slightly fewer postnatal complications.
In this week’s episode of Yahoo UK’s video series The Baby Bump with Lauren Pope, Casey Downie-Campbell, a baby massage specialist at Sensory Land, shares the key moves to help calm a baby and bond with them.
“There are so many benefits to massage but some parents refer to ‘press for calm’”, Downie-Campbell reveals.
This ‘magic button’, located at the bottom of a baby’s foot, can have a dramatic impact to a baby’s mood if they’re feeling unsettled, Downie-Campbell explains.
“It’s more of a static hold than a stroke. Many babies enjoy having their feet massaged, and working on the feet is great too as you don’t have to strip them down, it’s really quick and just doing this for 30 seconds a time can make a dramatic impact.
“We press and hold the bottom of baby’s foot, activating the reflexology point for the solar plexus, this has a calming impact on the nervous system.
“Combine it with some breathing techniques and start before baby is too fractious and it can work like magic. If you are feeling stressed or anxious because your little one is upset or unsettled it can be a great way to calm you both down and connect you,” she explains.
Baby yoga, which Downie-Campbell refers to as “yoga for babies and there are some breathing exercises and gentle yoga-inspired stretches grownups” is equally as effective when your baby is feeling unsettled.
Her must-try move? The so-called tiger in the tree.
Babies, particularly those in the fourth trimester - which lasts until the baby is three months old - love doing this because it means they can be close to their parents.
“When we put babies into this position they are held close to our bodies in what we call a ‘prone’ position, this basically means face down and it’s a fantastic way to sneak in some tummy time too,” says Downie-Campbell.
“In this prone position, baby is turned away from stimulation which, could cause them to get cranky, they have gentle pressure on their tummy which is great for their digestion, development and stimulating the vagus nerve; part of the parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite to our fight or flight.
“It helps baby to feel calm, safe and digest their food.”
When parents begin to feel comfortable trying this move sitting down, Downie-Campbell recommends trying it standing up:
“Adding some gentle sways and movement is like reenacting the movement and swaying that baby will have become so used to in the womb and many parents will have noticed that for some reason unsettled babies calm right down once you stand up.”
Just like the magic button in baby massage, the ‘tiger in the tree’ position is known as the “magic move” in baby yoga.
“It can be quite magic in helping to calm an overstimulated, overtired or fussing baby,” says Downie-Campbell. “There are lots of fun songs I like to sing with this move and it can be a mini work out for the grown ups too if you add in some squats. Everybody wins!
“I recommend doing this daily for 1-2 songs length, you can switch arms in between if you have a particularly larger/heavy baby.”
To ensure you’re completing this move right, the baby massage specialist shares step-by-step instructions to help people try this at home.
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