Babies often cry for various reasons – they may be hungry, they may be cranky because they’re tired or simply experience what is known as separation anxiety when they’re far away from their carer. Sometimes, however, they cry because of colic. Baby massage is one of those things that parents whish they knew about when they had their little screaming bundle of joy, as it can teach them some amazing techniques that help with colic.
Firstly, what is colic though?
Colic is a condition considered to be caused by things like indigestion and trapped wind, but the truth is that we aren’t hundred percent sure what actually causes it. Up to 25% of all infants between 2 weeks and 3 months of age suffer from colic. Otherwise healthy babies suddenly start crying and appear to be experiencing pain. Symptoms can include gassiness, irritability, crying for hours and apparent abdominal discomfort. Whatever the cause however, it can make parents panic, feel helpless and doubt their own parenting skills.
Colic is a normal stage many babies go through and it doesn’t mean they are not developing right. However, we know that no amount of saying that “it’s normal” makes the experience less stressful for both carers and babies. Babies are in obvious distress and mummies and daddies feel unable to provide relief to their beautiful little human. This is where baby massage comes in.
What is baby massage?
Baby massage is simply what is sound like – massage for babies! The special thing about baby massage is that it consists of set of particular techniques developed especially for infants. Baby massage classes like ours, at Our First Steps, aim to teach new parents how to use the power of touch to relieve baby problems like teething, fussiness and of course colic. Each week of the class we teach different strokes and techniques by focusing on different body parts so that you can learn how to do anything from tummy to toes massage!
How can baby massage help with colic?
Baby massage is not a miracle cure for all baby aches and pains, but it has repeatedly been reported by many parents to often help them sooth their little ones. Many mums report that their baby cries less and becomes much calmer after a nice relaxing massage.
Massage can help with your baby’s digestion, especially by moving trapped wind and helping specifically with constipation. This, in turn, tends to remove a lot of the source of discomfort and pain babies feel.
Additionally, there is a true power in touch. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that touch practices such as baby massage reduce stress and pain. In the last few years, this has also been supported by scientific studies which show that when babies are softly stroked, they show 40% less pain activity in their brain during medical procedures. This means that massage can contribute to natural pain-relief.
How else does massage help?
Another thing that massage does is to increase touch. Touch helps reduce anxiety and increase relaxation. This, in turn, promotes the production of oxytocin – the hormone of happiness, which calms babies, makes them sleepy and also helps parents bond with their new-borns.
Additionally, massage, especially done at structured classes like ours, provides the baby with an opportunity to exercise. It may sound silly to an adult – the amount of movement during our classes is not huge, but to a new-born babies with brand new, developing, muscles, these minor movements are quite enough.
To find out more about how massage can help you and your baby and whether baby massage is right for you, read our blog on the topic here.
Finally, please remember that if you have any worries about why your baby is crying and being fussy, it’s always best to be on the safe side and visit your doctor to rule out other conditions 😊