Many people in Western culture may dismiss the importance of touch in a relationship. However experts have proved that touch between you and your baby is not only an important part of developing your relationship, but also provides various benefits to both mom and baby.
Importance of touch
If you come to think about it, touch is a very basic form of communication. In times of sadness or distress, a simple hug or gentle caress can make a big difference to how we are feeling. It lets us know that we are not alone. Touch can comfort us and make us feel safe, loved and happy. Likewise, touch therapy has the ability to make your baby feel comforted and loved. In a way, touch is a pre-verbal language that allows you to communicate with your baby and vice versa.
Studies conducted in Jerusalem, Israel, have shown that a mother can recognize her baby just by touching the back of his or her hand. It was reported that 7 out of 10 moms who were blindfolded, and who spent only an hour with their babies since birth, could identify their babies by touch alone and could even select them from several other babies. This shows how touch is integral in strengthening the bond between mom and baby.
However, touch also plays an important role in contributing towards a healthy weight gain as well as enhanced development in babies. One amazing study showed that premature babies who were massaged while at the hospital gained more weight and were ready to go home with their parents an average of six days earlier than preemies who were not massaged.
It has been suggested that, when a mom touches her baby, she is stimulating the secretion and production of the baby’s hormones, which is vital for baby’s growth and also a healthy digestion. And, aside from this, touch is also believed to speed up the development of baby’s other senses.
In addition to these benefits, there is also evidence that touch therapy can reduce crying. Some people believe that’s ‘giving in’ to baby, however, if the result is a more contended baby, it may well beworth a try. In another randomized control trial, it was discovered that carrying babies for an extra two hours a day could result in them crying less and may also boost a healthier sleeping pattern in baby.
Getting in touch
Massage is a simple but wonderful form of touch therapy. Although there are no real right and wrong ways to massage baby, it’s important to be receptive to how baby responds. If your baby seems uncomfortable or starts crying, it is advisable to stop.
It’s important to pick an appropriate time to massage baby. Don’t try a massage just before or after a meal. Also, make sure you are both comfortable. Assume a comfortable position on the floor or bed, or rest baby on your lap in a comfortable chair.
1 – Begin by laying your baby down on a warm, soft towel. Pour a little massage oil on your hands, rub them together to warm them up and caress baby’s body gently.
2 – With your palms, gently stroke baby’s chest, moving downwards and outwards, and then back up again.
3 – Take each arm and roll it between your hands. Press gently on baby’s thumb to open his or her hand and stroke over baby’s palm and fingers.
4 – With one hand on baby’s thigh and the other underneath the arm on the same side, stroke downwards along baby’s side and back up again. Massage across baby’s tummy and repeat on the other side.
5 – Moving to the legs, roll each leg and foot in your hand. Don’t forget to gently massage the toes.
6 – Gently turn baby over on his or her tummy. Alternate between stroking baby’s back vertically from shoulders to feet and horizontally across.
7 – Turn baby over again onto his or her back and, very gently, massage the face. Stroke the forehead out to the ears. Move to the cheeks and gently stroke out towards the ears. Gently press your thumbs along the nose and move down to the mouth. Use light pressure to gently massage around the mouth.