As Infant Mental Health week draws to a close, we take a look at how baby massage can not only strengthen and support your bond with your baby, but the affect this has on a baby’s mental health.So many parents attend the classes not because of a particular physical ailment or issue, but merely to have some time out from busy day to day lives in order to bond with their baby.
Baby massage and the class environment; comfortable, relaxed and informal, enables you as a parent to focus on your baby and learning a new skill, whilst your baby has 1:1 attention and a positive physical and emotional experience from their primary caregiver.
As we have discussed before, baby massage has countless physical benefits for your baby, but the emotional and mental benefits massage can have on both the parent and baby are often over-looked.
I have worked with many parents, particularly mothers over the years, who arrive at one of my classes and feel bad for confessing that they are struggling to bond with their baby; for various reasons, post-natal depression being one of the most common.
Often the baby’s behaviour reflects this and they start the classes, unsettled and reluctant to be massaged for the duration of the class.
However, after developing the routine of the classes and having that un-hurried 1:1 time together bonding through nurturing touch, the difference in both parent and baby is phenomenal and not to be over-looked.
Maternal mental health is ever prevalent in the media and society as a whole at the moment and we are now hearing more and more about the mental health of our children and the effects this has on them throughout their early infancy and childhood.
Establishing that strong parental bond in the early stages is essential to not only protecting and promoting the mental health of your baby but also to supporting parental mental health too.
‘Attachment Theory’ has been documented consistently over the years and we are now all too aware of the detrimental effects on children’s mental and emotional well-being if they are unable to form at least one strong and consistent attachment in their first year.
We understand that for some parents, the parental bond is not always an instant process and can take some time, but things like baby massage classes can only work with you to support and develop that bond in an un-hurried and non-judgemental environment.
Baby massage is just as much for you and your feelings and mental state as it is for your baby so why not allow yourself time out of your busy lives to set aside a few hours each week to really focus on and bond with your baby, whilst learning a new skill and meeting new people.
We all know that parenthood can be an isolating place and these types of classes are the perfect starting point for meeting other like-minded parents, as well as being a brilliant socialising opportunity for your baby too.
With so much focus on mental health both for parent and baby, let’s work together to take as many small steps as we can to support ourselves and our infant’s mental health by allowing you both time to breathe and bond in a calm and relaxed environment.