Baby Massage Q & A
1. At what age can I start to massage my baby?
There is no hard and fast rule about the minimum age for coming to class. Although nurturing touch can be given from birth many babies may find formal, structured massage overwhelmingly stimulating in the very early weeks.
Many parents prefer to attend classes after about 6 weeks when their baby may be more settled into a routine and their behaviour is a little more predictable.
The IAIM approach is to encourage parents to acknowledge their baby's need for nurturing touch right from birth. Some of our instructors work in neonatal units, supporting families to touch and hold their babies in order to help to meet parents' instinctive desire to connect with their newborn, as well as help to satisfy every baby's need for touch, which can assist their optimum development.
Our instructors are trained to support parents at the earliest possible opportunity, with instruction being given from birth until the child is one year old or one year developmentally. We promote massage as a lifelong parenting skill so that it may continue within the family indefinitely and our instructors will teach you how to adapt positions and strokes for the growing child.
2. What can I use to massage my baby?
A scent-free vegetable oil, preferably cold pressed and organic. One example of a readily available and acceptable oil from your supermarket is sunflower oil. Olive oil is not recommended for use on infant skin.
3. Where is a good place to give the massage?
Preferably somewhere you and your baby can relax without other distractions. Somewhere warm with natural daylight or subdued lighting. Our instructors will show you different ways to sit and position your baby, so that you can feel comfortable and your baby feels supported.
4. When would be the best time to massage my baby?
The best time to massage is when your baby is quietly alert, lying awake, interested in what is going on around them and ready to interact with you.
We encourage parents to get into the routine of asking baby's permission before beginning a massage, using specific words and actions that baby will very soon come to recognize. Babies quickly learn that these words and actions are followed by a wonderful experience and will respond positively. If baby is not ready for massage they will let you know.
5. How long does the massage take?
As long as the baby wants it! Our classes are totally baby led.
As babies become more tolerant with age and experience they will want to be massaged for longer. Our instructors can help you to identify your baby's unique cues, then you can decide whether to continue or to rest your baby. In our classes parents are given expert status - you know your baby better than anyone else!
6. Should I massage my baby everyday?
The massage could become part of your daily routine, such as combining a leg and stomach massage with a nappy change or giving a massage before or after a bath. Ideally a daily massage would be great, but find what works for you and your family's rhythm. You can massage more than once a day if that is what you want to do and, more importantly, if your baby is happy to receive it. Be guided by your baby.
7. Are there any times when I shouldn't massage?
We do not recommend massaging a baby when they are not awake or are saying 'no' to massage. Safety is ensured by reading your baby's cues. You will learn about cues when you attend the massage classes.
8. Is massage for all babies?
Absolutely. Our approach is, regardless of whatever medical conditions or additional needs a baby may have, that a baby still has a need for touch and communication. We look beyond the physical condition and meet the emotional need for touch. We look to the baby to show us when, where, for how long and at what pressure they are happy to receive nurturing touch and massage. If a baby is well enough to be bathed and towel dried then they are usually well enough to receive the massage strokes taught in our classes.