Sensory Integration for Infants - Fussy Baby Calming Massages
Our babies feel and understand care and affection through touch. Infant massage is simple and natural. It can have a long lasting calming effect throughout your child's day. I will be sharing some tips and tricks on how to do a calming massage with your infant and explain the benefits behind why it can be helpful.
Based on classic patterns of sensory integration a more Fussy Baby can have difficulties modulating their responses. Sensory Modulation is the process in which the central nervous system (CNS - brain and nerves) regulates the sensory information. It is the process of increasing (exciting) or reducing (inhibiting) neural activity to keep that activity in harmony with all other functions of the nervous system. So the child can grade their behaviour in response to the intensity, complexity and novelty of the sensation. In other words, the child should not under or over react.
Fussy babies may experience poor regulation of sleeping, feeding and mood. They may find if more difficult to experience homeostasis. Caregivers may often be worried, overwhelmed, exhausted and confused how to support their child. Infant massages is a good calming and organising sensory activity that can help support attachment and help your fussy baby find homeostasis.
Infant massage promotes secure attachment with your child over time. It promotes verbal and nonverbal communication between you and your baby. Your baby also receives undivided attention from you.
Infant massage aids in the development of your body's circulatory respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. It aids in sensory integration helping your body learn how their body feels and what it limits are. It also aids the generation of muscular development, muscle tone and contributes to their mind and body awareness.
Regular infant massage improves sleep, increase flexibility and regulates behavioural states. It reduces levels of stress hormones and hypersensitivity. Massaging your baby creates higher levels of anti-stress hormones and promotes an improved ability to self-calm. It teachers your infant to relax in face of stress.
Tips and Tricks for Massaging your Baby
- Lighting – dim the lights when you massage.
- Noise level – try to turn of screens, focus on your baby with few interruptions as possible. Give both of you the time to be calm and relaxed by removing excessive audio stimulations. Your voice is important part of the massage. By talking softly, humming or singing you create an atmosphere of calm. This verbal communication will also help you keep your mind in the present and your attention on your baby.
- Temperature – ideally your baby is naked for the massage so you can feel your touch on the body. Keep in mind that the room should also be warm enough so your child doesn't feel cold naked.
- Consistency – Try to do it daily or at least weekly.
- Prepare your child – if your child is more sensitive to touch before beginning you can cue your child. Use language that you would normally use and stick with the same key words "ready for your massage" . You can also give a visual cue show your hands so your baby can see them make this sequence consistent so they can understand and anticipate.
- Time - experiment to discover the times that are best for both you and your baby. Find a time of the day that you are free and in a relaxed state of mind while your baby is alert and calm. If your baby is not ready take a break and try again later in the day.
- Massage oil – Massage oil can be helpful to ensure a smooth movement. Unscented, cold pressed organic vegetable oil is the safest option for massage since it is a food product that nourishes the skin. Also safe if they touch themselves and put their hands or near their mouths.