MOM AND BABY EXERCISE – CARRIE MYERS-SMITH
The opportunity to work with mothers and their new babies provides a rewarding experience and bonding environment. Mom and baby exercise programs provide an environment for mothers to restart exercise and spend special interaction time with their infant.
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MASSAGE CAN HAVE THE FOLLOWING PHYSIOLOGIC BENEFITS FOR INFANTS (INMAN, 1998):
• Increased strength and regulation in respiratory, circulatory, and gastrointestinal functions.
• Improved muscle tone and motor skills.
• Soothing stimulation to the developing nervous system, sensory nerves, and motor nerves.
• Stimulation to the growing brain cells, influencing mental development.
• Healing effects on birth trauma by soothing strained or pulled muscles.
• Enhanced infant sense of touch.
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• Relief from the daily stress that builds up from new encounters.
• Relief from gas pain caused by colic.
Massage also provides the following psychological benefits for infants and parents:
• Enhanced nurturing of the parent-infant relationship to promote bonding.
• Promotion of healthy body awareness and self-image.
• Encouragement of parents to relax and focus on their babies.
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• Increased confidence in parents as caregivers.
Infant Massage Guidelines
Before adding infant massage to your classes, here are a few things you need to know:
• Parents should obtain approval from the baby’s doctor before participating in an infant massage program.
• Infant massage should be performed in a calm, relaxing environment. Try to minimize bright lights, chilly drafts, and loud noises.
• Pick a comfortable spot to perform the massage. In class, have mats available. At home, parents can use a carpet, bed, or mat.
• Have soft towels available to lay the baby on, to wipe off excess oil, and to cover the areas of the baby that aren’t being massaged.
• Choose a time when the baby is quiet but alert, not too tired, and has not just eaten.
• The person performing the massage should also be relaxed.
• Use an edible oil, such as a vegetable or nut oil (almond is great). Remember, babies put hands and feet in their mouths!
• Pour a small amount of oil into the palm and allow it to warm before applying to the baby’s skin. A small amount of oil should be tested on a baby’s skin the day before to be certain that it does not irritate.
• Encourage the parent to listen to the baby’s cues. If the baby is not enjoying the massage, end it and try again later.
• Soft lullabies can be sung or played during the massage.
• The touch should be gentle but firm. Two to three repetitions of each stroke are enough at first. As parent and baby become more accustomed to the massage, sessions can be lengthened.
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