“Touch has a memory” John Keats
This quote is profound and gives us a clear understanding of why touch is so important. We remember when we have been touched kindly and this makes us feel safe and secure.
In the womb the sense of touch is all around, floating then moving on to a more massage type touch as baby gets bigger and fills the womb. This gives our baby a safe and secure environment where they are protected.
So why should this be any different outside the womb? Babies, once they are born, still need the same safety and security they had. When Parents hold their baby they have that reassurance that they are still protected. Without touch babies can feel insecure, frightened and therefore unable to thrive or survive in their environment.
Touch is our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading this compassion.
The main theorist, John Bowlby (1958), devoted extensive research over many years to the concept of attachment theory and believed there is an evolutionary component to attachment and that it aids human survival. More recently, Suzanne Zeedyk believes wholeheartedly that babies come into our world ready to connect. “The capacity to be an engaged, relational being doesn’t happen some time later in development, such as when children walk or talk or start school. The capacity is present from birth. Babies share in mental and emotional experiences. This means that how we, as adults, relate to our babies matters” (2012)
The first 1001 days of life are critical to enrich babies lives, and their brains. Nourishing and nurturing activities, such as baby massage, help grow their emotional intelligence, resilience and emotional regulation.
“Touch is as important to infants and children as eating and sleeping” Tiffany Field (Touch Research Institute)
So why is touch so important?…………
The skin is the largest sensory organ in our body and not only acts as a shield, exudes anti-bacterial substances to prevent infection and manufactures vitamin D. It is also a huge sensor packed with nerves keeping the brain in touch with the outside world.
As touch is so important to our wellbeing, then you can see how baby massage fits into all of this. Massage stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin (‘The LOVE hormone’) and this has a pain relieving and calming effect. It also promotes the bonding between parent and child and stimulates the skin. This generates all the feelings of love and protection. Massage also prevents baby illnesses by improving the immune system and can aid digestion and sleep.
Touching, holding, comforting and massaging our babies enables them to thrive and have confidence in the uncertain world around them.
For me, baby massage was the first course I went on with my Son and it was by far my favourite. It gave me confidence as a new Mum, I met some other Mummy’s and it went alongside all my childcare qualifications….I could now put all my knowledge of theory into practice. To this day, my now 10 year old, still loves a massage and this is a way to maintain that close attachment with him. It is a technique which has benefited us no end throughout the years.