The sense of touch begins to develop in-utero. So mum, all those patting and swirling movements you draw on your pregnant tummy is going to benefit your baby’s brain. When you drink that glass of ice-cold water and feel your little one move around vigorously, you are building their brain through developing their sense of touch and feeling.
The sense of touch, although not fully developed at birth, it is one of the most advanced abilities at birth. They can feel at birth a lot better than they can see, hear, or even taste. Early experiences of being touched and touching are incredibly important. It develops motor skills and an understanding of the physical world. It also contributes to good health and emotional well-being for the future.
Early touch experiences play a hugely important role in the overall quality of brain development. Baby massage gives the brain so much sensory information which helps to develop an awareness of body parts (body-mapping). This is important because at birth the baby does not know what parts belong to them. The have come from a warm fluid filled environment to a world with gravity where everything is a completely new experience.
- Start as soon as possible after birth
- Do it rhythmically and slowly. The brain is getting so much sensory input from this that it needs time to absorb this information.
- Follow your instincts
- Sing and smile while massaging
- Have baby naked and lying in a warm room on a warm towel/blanket, after bath time is usually a perfect time
- If using a lotion or oil, warm it in your hands before rubbing on baby’s skin
- Use circular clockwise movements – start on the stomach and move gradually out to the limbs, tell your little one the names of the parts of their body that you are touching – this really helps with left and right and body awareness
- Be gentle and support the head when turning baby over.
- From two months of age onwards you can vary the materials massage and introduce tapping with the fingers, vary intensity and strokes etc.
Ollwyn Moran is a trained Neurological Developmental Therapist and the founder of Creeper Crawlers, a revolutionary children’s clothing brand best known for its Easy Grip Crawl Suit. Made from 100% cotton and free of harsh chemical dyes, the patent-pending and award-winning Easy Grip Crawl Suit provides developmental benefits for babies ages 6-24 months. Learn more about Creeper Crawlers here.