(soft piano music) – Babies experience the world, of course, through their ears and their eyes. And they experience the world through their smell and taste, all those senses. But I would say none of those senses is more important than the sense of touch. They don’t see very well or very far. They are not actually
interested in that many smells besides the smell of their
mother and the smell of milk. You know, breast milk has a flavor, it’s a delicious flavor,
but that’s all they have. There’s really not a lot
that they can experience or that reassures them as much as touch. – Well, touching not only helps stimulate neural development and
increase health for the baby. What it does is it really
encourages and accentuates the mother-child bond. Babies need to be touched. If a baby doesn’t get
touched, it will not thrive. – Massage decreases their stress hormones, increases their bonding
hormones, and this leads to a whole cascade of benefits around improved nutrition,
improved neural development, improved physical
coordination, better sleep. Moms always love that part. With postpartum depression,
the massage can help both to prevent it by increasing
the bond between mother and child and because it
lowers the cortisol hormones that are closely linked to depression. And it does that both for baby and Mom. – Under the age of six
months, a daily massage is really wonderful for the development of the nervous system and for the bonding, that enhancement of the
bonding and attachment with their caregiver. And for the health
benefits of weight gain, reducing colic and fussiness, and just helping baby to relax. (soft music) – We had a mom come in who
said that after the first time she was here, her baby
slept for four hours, and she was so excited. So that’s some of the things
we’re trying to achieve, and the nice thing is,
too, you take this time to sit with your child
at a time when they’re prepared to look back at you. Always encourage the moms or
whoever’s doing the massage to just take a couple of
minutes to calm themselves, because their state of mind is conveyed through their hands to their child. So it actually ends up
being a really nice time for the moms to just relax a little bit and be comfortable with their child. – So one question that I
get frequently with massage, or with baby massage, is
when should I massage a baby? And my answer to that
is it doesn’t matter. Whenever it works for the
rhythm of your family. Some people, it works really
well for them to do it first thing in the morning. Other families want to have
their baby’s massage happen right at bedtime, where
they’ve gone for a bath and then they do a massage
and then straight into bed. – I would bring one of my
girls down onto the ground and massage them from head to toe, and it’s so nice and it’s so easy because they’re so little. I feel both of my girls
have good self-esteem, good body image and are, both feel good about themselves
because they felt that sense of love through healthy touch. (laughter) – One of the really nice
things about infant massage is it creates a lot of the
same chemical reactions in baby as breastfeeding does. You get the skin-to-skin
contact that leads to the lower stress hormones and to the production of oxytocin, which means it’s a great time to bond. If postpartum depression or
anxiety has started to happen and Mom’s unfortunately
not perhaps as bonded with the baby and isn’t as interested in doing the massage with them,
it’s a great time for dads or other family members
to encourage that bond. And the other time that
massage can be really helpful is when moms are recovering
from postpartum depression. A lot of times, for one reason or another with postpartum depression and anxiety, Mom’s not breastfeeding anymore,
so they lose that access to that kind of skin-to-skin contact. And massage can replace
that because it has a lot of the same hormonal
reactions as the skin-to-skin contact with breastfeeding. So it’s a great way for Mom to
re-establish that connection. – We love it when dads are
involved with their babies, and this is a time that dads
can really fully participate in the care of their babies. So using these same techniques, you know, perhaps with Mom is busy
needing a much-needed rest or eating or busy with other children, that might be the perfect
time for baby and dads have an attachment process
as well that they go through. And so that enhances
that process with Dad. – The main part is to touch your child. It’s that skin-to-skin contact. It’s interacting with your child, these are the things that
are fundamental to massage. And I always feel that in our society, where there are more and
more rules around touch and who’s allowed to touch
who and who’s not allowed to touch who, that introducing
your child at a very young age to healthy touch is
a really wonderful gift for your child, because
then they always have that fundamental understanding
of healthy touch. – When you make eye
contact with your baby, both you and your baby
get a release of oxytocin, and it encourages that feeling of love and that feeling that everything’s okay. We are hardwired to see our babies smile, and then when our babies
smile at us and we smile back at them, we get a
release of endorphins. – I actually remember massaging my babies when they were small,
and sort of rubbing oil into their skin, and I
felt that one of the things I was teaching them was that
their body was valuable, and their body was beautiful
and their body was lovable. And if we can teach our children that, what a wonderful thing to
go off into the world with. (soft piano music)