Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

The Benefits of Touch

massage1“Touching is the first form of communication a baby receives. The first language of its development is through the skin” ~ Fredrick Leboyer

Irrespective of age, touch has been shown to have a soothing effect, stimulate the immune system, and improve overall health and wellness. Babies in particular need to be held and touched in a caring and loving manner in order to thrive and grow into well functioning children. Evidence shows that parents who take the initiative and utilize infant massage or other forms of loving touch to soothe their babies, during times of physical or emotional distress, are able to bond with their babies in a highly intimate way.

The Benefits of Touch

Tactile stimulation has a number of potential benefits including;
  • Increasing calm and relaxation
  • Improves body awareness
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Enhanced pulmonary & immune function
  • Strengthens digestive, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems
  • Reduces discomfort from teething, congestion, colic and emotional stress
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Increased bonding and attachment
  • Healthy sense of boundaries
  • Stress reduction
  • Overall wellbeing
Basic Guidelines for Nurturing Touch
  • Skin-to-skin contact is particularly effective
Breastfeeding provides a wonderful opportunity for skin-to-skin contact and bonding
Bathing with your baby also provides the opportunity to snuggle skin-to-skin
Baby-wearing or carrying, using a soft carrier, meets a baby’s need for physical contact, comfort, security, stimulation and movement, which all encourage neurological development.

Older Children Enjoy & Need Touch Too
Meet your child’s need for touch through frequent hugs, snuggling, back rubs and massage.
Physical play, such as wrestling and tickling also satisfy children’s need for touch.
Playfulness and games can be used to encourage physical closeness, but always follow the lead of your child and do not force this type of playfulness.
Older children can be too heavy to hold comfortably. Offer your child the opportunity for closeness, comfort and attention by allowing them to sit on your lap.

Comforting through Touch
Since babies find touch to be soothing, a gentle cuddle or rhythmic rocking in parents’ arms can comfort an upset baby.
Hold your baby firmly or wrap them up securely in a blanket. Many parents find swaddling to be an effective method to get their baby off to sleep. Alternatively, use a sling to provide your baby with reassurance.
Use baby massage to calm and connect with your little one. Pediatric massage is a gentle way of preparing your child for sleep and can easily be incorporated into their bedtime routine.
Make times for special forms of touching, such as kisses, cuddles or playfully throwing your child into the air.
If your child is being good, acknowledge their behaviour through tactile contact, such as hugging or patting them on the head.
Wait for a tantrum to subside before trying to calm your child through touch.

CO-SLEEPING & THE BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL CONTACT:
Besides the practical benefits of co-sleeping with your baby, extensive research shows that safe co-sleeping can have a positive impact on your child’s physical and emotional health. Babies, who sleep “skin-to-skin” with their parents, are less likely to suffer from serious illness in the first 6 months of life.

Sleeping in close proximity with a parent provides your baby with a sensory rich environment because of all the movement, touch, smells, and sounds. Co-sleeping means hours of extra body contact, which bring you and baby closer together, because bonding goes on at night as well as during the day. Being next to your body at night, synchronizes your baby’s sleeping patterns with yours and regulates his:
  • Arousal patterns
  • Body temperature
  • Metabolic rate
  • Hormone levels
  • Enzyme production- this increases the strength of your baby’s disease fighting antibodies
  • Heart rate
  • Breathing

Immune- calming, skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin, which boosts baby’s immune system

Do what feels comfortable for you. Keeping the cot in your room for the first few months is as beneficial as co-sleeping and at least you will not worry about squashing baby in your sleep.

Using Touch techniques for burping:
When burping your baby, pick them up, making sure that their arms are over your shoulder and their legs straight down. Rub the heel of your palm in an upward motion, on the left side (where the stomach is). Repeat for 5 minutes. If your baby hasn’t given you a burp, put them down. Panting, squirming, rolling of the eyes, and making an expression that resembles a smile, mean that your baby has wind. Repeat the above.

Place your baby on their back. Gently lift up their legs and move them in a bicycling motion.
Lay your infant across your forearm, with their face in a downward position. Use your palm to put a gentle pressure on their stomach.
Massage your baby’s tummy in a backward C-motion, so that you trace the colon- left to right, down, and then right to left.

Calming, Connecting & Communicating with your child through Massage
The dynamics of the parent-child relationship form the foundation upon which a child learns about; who they are, what relationship is and what the world they are born into is like. Infant/ child massage provides the mutually beneficial experience, in which parents learn about parenting (parenting skills, infant-parent interaction, bonding and attachment, and the ability to read their baby’s cues) and children discover what it means to be loved and honoured using nurturing touch.

By engaging in infant massage, parents learn to listen to their babies through sound, movement, eye contact, body language and their hearts. Positive cues may include smiling, cooing, babbling, rhythmic movements of the arms and legs and eye contact. Negative cues may include squirming, turning the head away, arching the back, crying or flailing the arms and legs. As pointed out by Dr. Elaine Fogel Schneider; “Infant massage is not done to an infant; it is done with an infant”. Massage opens up the lines of communication between parent and child, creating a sense of synchronicity, love and trust.

Touch as a Powerful Form of Communication
All humans thrive on touch and the reconnection it provides. Babies are born with intense and urgent needs and are reliant on others to meet them; this includes the need for loving touch and connection with another human being. Nurturing touch meets several basic needs, namely the need for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation and movement. By adopting a nurturing approach to physical interactions parents are able to stimulate healthy intellectual, physical and emotional development; promote the development of healthy attachment bonds; ease the pain of some of the most common childhood ills; and soothe emotional discomfort.

References

Hogg, T. (2001). Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Vermilion: London.
http://www.healthguidance.org/
http://www.emmasdiary.co.uk/
http://www.healthyfamily.org/
http://www.allmassagetherapy.com/
http://www.perkins.org/
http://www.liddlekidz.com/