We’ve loved doing baby massage on some of our charges, some as little as 2months to managing to catch a tearing around 3year old for some quiet time. Because we enjoy doing this in our jobs so much, we thought we’d ask the expert, Sophie Osgood, to give us some more information on the topic.
Tell us about you, your background and what you do now.
I live in Newbury, Berkshire/ Hampshire border on a farm with my partner, and our springer spaniel! I love all things nature; a walk with the dog, a potter down to the farm and growing some delicious veggies in the garden! I enjoy baking and experimenting with different recipes to suit everyone’s needs. I have a little tribe of my friend’s children and 3 god children living locally around me, who always make themselves very comfortable in my house – and all of them know where the play box is! I enjoy moving my body in a way that relaxes me – running and yoga are well included activities in my week.
I trained to be a nanny at Norland College. I loved the training, the self-development and the friends for life that I made along the way. After I left in 2007 and started nannying in London, I then carried on working with various families mostly around my home town.
Then in 2012 I decided to train in Baby Massage with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) I created my business ‘Spoonful of Nana’ in 2013 to empower women and families in this new life they have before them. My working week consisted of teaching Baby Massage one day a week and nannying for 4 days, this naturally changed when my charge went to pre-school. I loved teaching massage and having families come to me for 5 weeks. To see the bond, grow between families was great, but the course seemed to go so quickly. So I trained in Mum and Baby Yoga with the charity Birthlight in 2015 to deliver a mix of stretches, movement and songs for 3 months – 18 month olds. I now see babies from 5 weeks up to 18 months, And I’ve had second siblings join the mix too!
What is baby massage?
Infant Massage (or baby massage – there isn’t a time frame to learn) is an ancient art practised in many parts of the world. The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) course draws from both the Indian and Swedish massage traditions as well as incorporating principles from yoga and reflexology.
“The purpose of the International Association of Infant Massage is to promote nurturing touch and communication through training, education and research so that parents, caregivers and children are loved, valued and respected throughout the world community” (IAIM mission statement)
Infant Massage is something to be enjoyed by all the family, it is a lifelong skill to give parents ‘tools’ to use when they need to; massaging your baby may help with the relief of colic, wind and constipation. Massaging provides a wonderful opportunity to bond, express your love and learn to understand their needs. Positive touch is essential for the healthy development of all babies.
What are the benefits?
There are many benefits to enjoy Infant Massage… here are just a few;
For your baby
- Feelings of love, value and respect
- Experience better sleep and relaxation
- Improving body awareness
- Nourishing their skin
- Gaining relief from wind, colic and constipation
- Experimenting with rhythm and movement
- Meeting other babies
- Gaining increased understanding of your baby through their non-verbal communication – body language, eye contact, facial expressions
- Feeling the relaxing benefits of giving your baby positive nurturing touch
- Feeling closer to your baby
- Softer hands!
- Having an opportunity to socialise with other parents and babies in a welcoming and supportive environment
- Having fun whilst learning a life – long parenting skill.
Who can do it?
Massage is something to be shared, so once the mum (or dad) feels confident in the strokes they can then share their experience with those around them- their partner, older siblings, grandparents, carers. My first introduction to massage was with my probation family who massaged her little boy most evenings, so showed me some of the strokes that he enjoyed. I’ve since been asked to carry on this routine in the evenings, however now I see how special it can be with a family I make sure the parents are happy for me to be included in this time.
Primarily my course is designed for the parents in mind. I take great comfort watching the bond being formed and strengthened through teaching massage to the immediate family unit. I’ve had some classes as groups but also some as one2ones in their own homes. I’ve witnessed a dad taking time to feel confident in handling his little girl even though she seemed so small. I’ve seen mums very touched at being able to watch the bond form between her husband and their child. Generally, I see mums in my classes, they feel able to come out, feed when they need to, and chat about any worries or concerns they may have – having a circle of women in the same stages of their lives is very uplifting and supportive.
Is Baby Massage easy to fit into your day?
Massage can be done over the top of clothing or skin to skin with oils, the most important thing to remember is massage is completely baby-led, whether that is in class or at home. We take respect from the babies and follow their lead.
Some families find using massage as part of the evening routine after a bath helps to settle both the baby and parent for a good night’s rest. Other families find day time massage works well when their baby is a bit fractious. A fun time to massage is when changing a nappy – giving that extra attention to their skin makes a fussy changer enjoy some songs and loving touch.
I like to give ‘tools’ to have on hand when a baby is fussing, whether that’s to do with colic, wind, constipation or teething… sometimes just having a gentle loving hands resting on their tummy is all a baby needs to feel supported and loved.
If a parent is interested in doing Baby Massage with their baby (away from your classes), where should they start.
The course that I’ve studied and teach was founded in America by Vimala McClure the IAIM is the only international class being taught exactly the same way – there are over 50 countries being taught in this style. She has a book aimed at parents called “Infant Massage, A handbook for loving parents”. I would recommend reading the book and if you feel you would like to connect with others then find a local class (this can be done via the IAIM website)
Birthlight also teach a Baby Massage class; Françoise Freedman has written many books on the positive effect of massaging and moving your body.
Equipment is quite basic, all you need is a soft blanket / towel to have under your baby – and maybe one on top to keep them cosy, some massage oil (see below for recommendations), somewhere cosy to practice – a cosy room in the winter is the best place, or outside under a tree in the summer is equally relaxing. Personally I don’t put any music on in my classes as I feel the babies are getting stimulated enough, but if this helps to relax you then by all means have some soft music playing quietly in the background. And the most important equipment you will need is uninterrupted time! Make the massage routine a time for you to relax into nurturing your baby.
What is your favourite massage oil to use on babies and why?
I believe the scent of a mother from the nose of a baby is very powerful, a comfort to her baby and very unique to them. So I never use essential oils in class.
The oils that I would recommend are high quality, cold pressed, ideally organic vegetable oil- such a ‘Clear Springs Sunflower Oil’ (found in Waitrose or Sainsbury’s) or Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or a cold pressed Coconut oil.
These examples are full of vitamins minerals, nourish the skin – both babies and mummies! And the bonus is they are edible so even if the baby sucks her hands after massage it is perfectly ok! If a baby has a skin condition and has some cream that works, then I would encourage a parent to use that on the problem areas instead of oil. Mineral or synthetic oils made in a lab don’t contain any nutritional value, they may feel greasy and the added scent can put off a baby but also may cause irritation.
What is your most enjoyable part of baby massage?
The part of massage I enjoy teaching the most is meeting new mums and their babies (I mainly see mums in my classes but I have taught dads too… grandparents are also welcome!) seeing a women change into a mum is an amazing scene, having been able to witness a few of my close friends in my classes is extra special! Being able to connect with women is very powerful and being able to nurture her so she can nurture her baby is important to me.
My classes aren’t just about teaching loving stokes we also have time to discuss theories of development for babies, recent research and any worries or concerns mums may have. I have a circle of trust in my classes to mums feel happy to be able to chat in confidence. From my nannying background I am able to help with a few concerns, But I have a good network of professionals to turn to should I need to… Generally, I feel the mums help each other out and are able to connect on a deeper level with co-parenting.
If you love the sounds of Sophie’s classes then get in contact with her! Details as follows.
Find me on facebook – search Spoonful of Nana
And if you are interested in a class in South London Sophie highly recommends fellow Norland nanny Charlotte Gale. (firstname.lastname@example.org)