Baby massage is a stimulating experience that engages all of baby’s senses. Why is it important for baby to have a multi-sensory experience?
In the early years, baby is creating the structure for his or her brain, based on what he or she is observing in the environment. The newborn brain develops two to three million synapses a second! These synapses create the route for sensory messages to reach the brain and become permanent the more they are used.
“Multisensory teaching techniques stimulate the brain in a variety of ways so that each sensory system becomes more developed and higher functioning. This improves essential functions of the brain such as listening skills, movement, vision, tactile recognition and conceptualization.”
Studies have found that mom just looking at baby or smiling at baby, for example, is not quite enough in terms of social connection. For bonding, the engagement really has to be multi-sensory. They need to feel you, hear you, and be able to smell you. This input helps them build those connections in the brain and make sense of the world around them. Another finding is that all sensory systems do not mature at the same time, but rather in a specific order. They develop tactile then vestibular then chemical then auditory then visual senses. Baby massage is the perfect multi-sensory experience because, as you are massaging baby, you are engaging all of the senses.
I talk a lot in my course about the importance of setting the right environment for massage, which means you are potentially picking a favorite song for massage, or picking an oil that you like to use you for massage, or you are using a a special massage blanket. The baby will use those inputs and identify them as cues. They will learn to relax even before the massage starts because of the association they create with those cues.
As you're massaging baby, you’re touching them using the power of loving touch, they’re seeing you and smelling you, they're smelling the oil, they’re hearing the music, and they might even be using their sense of taste by putting their hands in the mouth.
If you speak another language, this is a great time to incorporate your native language or sing songs that you like, which make for an especially enriching experience. Baby will always prefer your voice to a professional so don’t worry about how you sound! Remember that speaking and singing are encouraged as they help baby's brain grow. These simple, yet powerful, expressions of touch and connection we may underestimate but have incredible, long lasting impacts on baby.