I think it’s maternal instinct to want to touch one’s child… Well, at least it is for me. And I’m lucky that I still have a one-year-old with softer-than-soft newborn skin that I can’t just stop caressing!
I have fond memories of the baby bath routine that I had when each of my two older babies were, well, babies; my Baby Bumblebee and I are enjoying it now, too. Maybe it’s the baby massage and baby yoga that I incorporate in it that make it so special for me.
Baby massage, I would say, is the highlight of our morning and evening bath ritual. It’s so special that I even included it in the homemade book that I made for my eldest. (See photo above.)
Why babies need some lovin’ touch
I read an interesting story about the early 1900s when parents in the United States followed Dr. Luther Holt’s order not to cuddle their children too much to avoid spoiling them. There was an increase in infant deaths soon after his pronouncement!
According to research, touch makes babies feel safe and secure, and leads to the development of both mind and body. In a 1986 study conducted by psychologist Dr. Tiffany Fields, Ph.D., massaged preterm babies improved in health more than those who did not receive massage, and even had an advantage on mental and motor abilities eight months later.
One of my favorite books when I first had a baby was “Itsy Bitsy Yoga” by Helen Garabedian. I followed the exercises and had daily baby yoga sessions with my little ones.
I enjoyed the simple Heart-Warm Touch, which entails caressing the baby’s body slowly and mindfully. I would do it at the beginning of our massage time, because as the author says in her book, touch is a form of communication and bonds the baby with her new family. It’s another way of saying “I love you,” one that babies can immediately and instinctively understand.
Calming babies (and big kids!)
Babies cry for a number of reasons, and they communicate their distress through their crying. And whatever scientists say, I still always count on my own intuition and experience in calming my kids down.
From their infancy, I’ve learned that my hug is enough to stop my children’s most hysterical crying. Baby Bumblebee, for instance, immediately stops crying – as in zip! – as soon as she reaches the safety of my loving arms. Big sister T calls it “instant quiet!”
Even big kids benefit from a loving touch from mom. An overexcited child’s voice and activity tone down a bit with a gentle rubbing of the shoulder.
One of the most powerful things that we share in our Positive Discipline workshops is about the effect of a hug to a child in distress. Anger melts away and connection is re-established with that simple act of touch.
Kids – big or small – really just need to feel safe and loved, and we can give that to them through a simple, loving touch.