The little ones need milk, but even more to be loved and to receive caresses. Being carried in your arms, cradled, caressed, so infant massage are all nourishment for young children, indispensable as vitamins, mineral salts and proteins, if not more.
Contact, massage and touch are experiences that each of us already knows from life inside the womb.
The skin plays an essential role in our body, considering that it is the largest organ, representing 18% of the human body, with its 6 square meters and which is the first organ to be formed in the embryo, after only 8 weeks it’s already complete. In fact, the skin serves to contain, limit, protect from environmental stimuli, but at the same time to communicate with the outside world by collecting and sending information.
Touch is the most important of our senses, it is our first means of exploration and communication. From the beginning, when it is still in the uterus, the child perceives and knows his world, that is, the mother through the skin treading the walls of the uterus, caressing the umbilical cord, responding to the hands of the parents on the maternal belly. After birth, the baby will be reassured and will regain its balance in the unknown world outside the mother’s womb, recognizing, in the first moments of life, the softness, the warmth, the smell, the welcoming of the skin and the mother’s contact. The skin-to-skin contact gives feelings of security and trust in the world and in the people around it.
At the time of birth, is the mother the only person who can appropriately present the world to the child in a form that makes sense to him and which place is most suitable to receive it? The womb of the woman has the form, the exact measure of the child. Convex a little while ago, now concave, it seems waiting, like a nest. In addition its warmth, its elasticity, the fact that it rises and falls according to the rhythm of breathing, the sweetness, the warmth of the skin, all makes it the place par excellence where to lay the baby.
Experience and scientific studies show that physical contact, in the form of caresses and massages by the parents, reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone, and then lower the anxiety as well as regulate the heart rhythm and arterial pressure. Not only that, the sweet and loving touch stimulates the production of oxytocin and endorphins, hormones that induce a state of calm, well-being and relaxation.
The first massage that is done to the child by the uterus in labor, the powerful contractions put life into motion because they prepare the lungs for the first breath and stimulate the production of fetal adrenaline (facilitates the respiratory, cardio-circulatory, thermal adaptation and metabolic, activates the 5 senses above all the sight, makes the newborn reactive and sensitive to the world and favors the first suck). After that it is through the experience of contact with the mother that the child acquires self-perception. The newborn discovers that he has a body because his mother touches him and traces its boundaries. The touch also gives rise to trust and union allowing the passage of energy between mother and child.
Massage is a practice that originated in Asia, Africa, South America and has ancient origins as a means of communication, listening, play, expression of love and care, giving relief in cases of abdominal colic, crying, relaxing and regularizing the sleep rhythms – veglia.
Massage is important for all children, but it is especially for those who have had some difficulty: premature babies, Caesarean-born babies and adopted children. To grow well, the baby needs to be touched, caressed. Only in this way can one feel whole and learn in turn to caress, embrace, touch others with sweetness and love.