What a wise decision you have made in selecting this book. Baby massage is a natural way to further brain development. Eye-to-eye contact enhances the development of the right side of the brain. Speaking to your infant during a massage assists in the development of the left side of the brain. Massage is a natural way of enhancing the physical and emotional well-being of your baby as well as providing increased intellectual performance. In addition, massage has been shown to increase gastrointestinal and metabolic efficiency, while promoting more active and alert babies who perform better on developmental tests than those infants who were not massaged. Furthermore, massage has been shown to have benefits for children who have arthritis, asthma, autistic tendencies, and for alleviating stress. Massage has also been shown to have benefits for those providing massage, too.
For everyone greeting an infant into his or her life, now or in the future, this book is written for you. Whether you are a biological parent, a surrogate parent, a foster parent, day care provider, or an extended family member, the word “parent” will be used interchangeably to mean “YOU.” This book will show you an easy way you can develop a lifelong, loving connection with your baby that will lay the foundation for all of your child’s future relationships.
The book begins with the most up-to-date research about the power of touch and the benefits of infant massage. In Chapter 1, I will explore with you the ways baby massage can have positive effects on your baby’s brain development, as well as his or her physical and social-emotional well-being. I will share with you the importance of breath, energy, and the quality of your movements, and introduce you to the many hidden benefits that you will gain from baby massage, too.
Next, in Chapter 2, you’ll be ready to begin, as I’ll list the inexpensive, simple materials you can get to enhance your infant’s massage. Guidelines are offered, which give permission to caregivers to perform the massage and remember the importance of bonding with their baby, whether in a full massage or an abbreviated massage. Massage oil ingredients are described, explaining the beneficial and harmful ingredients. When will you want to massage your baby? You will learn to observe the various states your baby goes through during the day, along with signs of your baby’s willingness or unwillingness for massage.
After that, it’s on to Chapter 3, and the basic stroke movements of Dr. Elaine’s TouchTime Baby Massage. To make it simple and fun for you, I’ve turned these into ABCs: Attuning, Breathing, and Communicating. In fact, every stroke movement matches a letter in the alphabet to help you understand them and remember them. You’ll see that massaging your baby is not a monologue, but rather a melodic interactive dialogue.
Once you are massaging, Chapter 4 shows how, during massage, songs and rhymes lead to added growth and development. Infant massage, when coupled with voice and rhythm, blends three languages: the language of touch, the language of words, and the language of melody. The songs and rhythms are another way of connecting with your baby, enriching communication moments, providing bonding and attachment, and improving relaxation for you and your baby.
Massage shouldn’t end in infancy. In Chapter 5, we’ll next talk about the benefits for your toddler, as well as techniques you may offer as you gain permission to begin the massage with him or her. I’ll also give important tips for maintaining touch with older children and discuss the powerful benefits that are brought to both the child and the adult.
How do parents of a child with special needs ensure that they can massage their child without bringing harm? That’s the next area we will tackle. In Chapter 6, parents will learn how to adapt to meet their child’s needs. No matter what the special needs may be—autism, cerebral palsy, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, hypertonia, hypotonia, Down syndrome, cleft palate, or spina bifida—there are important ways massage can comfort and stimulate your child, while comforting and relaxing yourself and strengthening the relationship with your child.
Finally, we’ll explore the exciting ways in which you are building a lifelong connection with your child. Guidelines will be given to ensure that the strokes of today mean plenty of success for decades to come.
Over the last thirty years, I have had the privilege of becoming one of the country’s top infant massage experts and am called upon to speak, teach, and demonstrate nationally. My articles on the subject have appeared in both scientific and popular literature. I am even more privileged to be a parent of a loving college student and have seen firsthand, in my own family for many years, the results I describe in this book.
I am also privileged to hear the wonderful stories of other parents. I have heard a mother of a child with special needs say that before she began massaging him he was just “Patrick,” and after the massage he had a personality all his own. I have heard a dad say that he didn’t know how he would develop a bond with his child since he was gone so much of the time, but with massage they have developed a meaningful relationship and he now knows he has an important role in his son’s life.
As these lucky parents discovered firsthand, the first language that your baby will experience in his or her life is not the language of words, but rather the language of touch. Whether that means being able to read your baby’s cues, fostering communication, enhancing your baby’s health, or creating loving and nurturing memories upon which your relationship will grow, with this book you are holding the map to it all in your hands. It is my intent that you will learn that within your hands, eyes, ears, voice, and heart, you hold the key to building a nurturing relationship with your child and facilitating a unique and special communication that will last a lifetime.
Just as I found my inner child while learning to become an infant massage instructor, I believe that through similar actions you will have the opportunity of rediscovering an ancient art that will provide you and your baby with hours of pleasure, while improving bodily functions and increasing your baby’s brain development. You will sense the meaning of togetherness as your finger intertwines with the tiny finger of your baby, not knowing where your finger ends and your baby’s finger begins. You will experience unity as your two breaths become one. You will sense the bond that connects and bridges the gap between you and your baby, and delight in the relationship that will last a lifetime.