Every year the second Saturday in April is celebrated as Baby Massage Day to honor the growing trend of infant massage and educate parents (and parents-to-be) about the many benefits it can offer. The stimulation offered through massage can aid a baby’s physical and cognitive development, as well as improve sleep patterns, regulate stress hormones, and increase body weight and length. Some studies have even proven that mothers who participate in regimens of infant massage may reduce their own postnatal depression. The practice of infant massage is both old and natural — it was taught in some ancient Chinese and Indian traditions and can also be witnessed in the animal kingdom through licking and grooming.
I have reached that age where many of my friends are having babies. Of course there are a few of us that have been holding out, but I wonder how much longer we’ll all last. Apart from our home already filled with “fur-babies,” my main reservation about bringing a baby into the world centers around the fact that I’ve had next to no contact with infants. I was the youngest of two in my immediate family and of my ten cousins, only one is more than a few years younger than me. So, in short, I’ve never changed a diaper, fed a baby, or put one to bed. Toddlers and school-aged children can be a challenge in their own way, but I do have some experience with them (when I was in my early twenties a friend of mine and her five year old daughter lived with me and my first husband — the little girl was such a joy to us!). But with babies I experience the fear of the unknown. It’s not pregnancy or even childbirth that scare me — it’s what to do with the baby after it comes out. Luckily, one of my best friends just had her first baby, a little girl, and I’m hoping I can get some parenting tips and advice from here when we start trying to enlarge our family to include an actual human baby. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to educate myself via the internet, books, and first-hand testimonials.
Baby Massage Day was the perfect “unofficial” for me to celebrate today. With our hopes for a baby before 2013, and the my “continuing education” in baby-rearing already underway, learning some techniques for infant massage seemed like a great idea. Early in the evening I watched several demonstrations on YouTube. I was surprised to learn that touch is a baby’s most developed sense right after birth.