There are socially safe ways according to different cultures of appropriate touch. We have human rights as do children have rights to be safe from harm, respected and protected. To start to teach children their rights to feel empowered and to have safe behaviours where they are able to persist themselves to be safe they need to learn to say no when they feel unsafe or something doesn’t meet what they need. This helps them be strong emotionally and socially. Therefore even though some people may believe that children and especially infants don’t understand because they don’t have the verbal communication yet or that we as adults know more and so we know what is best for them is not the case and so we need to seek their permission to go ahead with massage in respectful and safe ways. We need to observe and listen to their verbal sounds and behavioural cues to see if they are not wanting a massage before starting and then throughout the massage.
According to Sansone (2018), physical contact between parent and baby such as touch through massage can have benefits for our hormonal and immune systems, is crucial for breathing and healthy development and can induce sensory stimulation that promotes the stability of the baby’s breathing and regulation of the respiratory system which in turn protects the baby from environmental factors particularly within the first six months of their life.
Our emotional tension such as anger and fear are displayed in our muscles as tension and massage can relieve this tension and distribute balanced muscle tone and relieve any barriers of communication, Sansone (2018). A baby can feel the emotions of a mother through their body language such as their breathing and how they communicate and massage can be a way to build the relationship through communicating through massage by understanding your own cues as a parent and that of your infant’s and giving them the beginning of having a sense of security. This is also the start to regulation and behaviour guidance of how you support and are in tune with your infant. An infants sense of security.
Research on babies found those that are touched more cry less, gain weight faster and exhibit better motor, emotional and behavioural development and learning capacities, and it allows the parent to get to know their child and feel more confident with how they handle the baby and thus builds trust and relationship further, Sansone (2018). Massage is a great way to involve fathers to allow them to have the same benefits.