Last week I was whisked away to NYC for Johnson Baby’s #SoMuchMore global campaign launch (search the hashtag on social media to see all of our photos!) And while I had 2 pretty amazing celeb moments, I also learned a crazy amount about how to raise smart, happy kids. I didn’t know much about it before, but one of the best things you can do for your baby is also one of the easiest- infant massage. Here are a few of its benefits (there are many), which will hopefully give you some incentive to start on your baby today.
1. It makes babies smarter:
Using new brain imaging, we can see exactly how a baby’s brain reacts to touch- it’s stimulated, awakened, and firing in a very tangible way. Research also shows how different brains are in older kids (7 or 8) when one has been nurtured (hugged, loved), and the other was not. Not only was the brain activity level so much lower in the children who weren’t nurtured as babies, but so were their IQs. The babies who were nurtured were smarter. Touch is how we talk to our babies, it’s how we teach them, it’s how they know they’re loved. It’s a building block for their brains and some of the first information they receive. It sets a pattern of brain activity that lasts a lifetime.
Here’s an image of how a baby’s brain is stimulated by a simple touch.
2. It helps with postpartum depression:
I struggled with postpartum depression after Harper was born for almost a year. It was awful, like a dark hole I couldn’t climb out of. I was scared of her and felt like I don’t know what I was doing. Whenever Mike would hand her to me I could feel my body tense up because I was afraid to just hold her. All of those hours I logged nursing really helped and eventually we found our rhythm, but if I knew then how beneficial infant massage was to moms I would’ve made that a part of our family routine. So much research has gone into why massage eases mom’s baby blues. It’s the best way to get to know your baby and become a more confident mother which lowers anxiety and can ultimately help the depression to fall away.
3. It connects babies to a happy memory:
This is where the use of something scented comes into play. Scent is the only one of our senses that we remember and it’s so powerful- just thinking about the smell of your grandmother’s house, or even a cologne of an ex boyfriend can take you back to that exact moment you were with that person. Using the same scent during the massage helps your baby to recall the touch and loving action more easily than if the massage were given with an unscented oil or lotion.
4. It relaxes you and the baby:
Of course your baby benefits from a soothing massage but did you know that it helps you too? It’s not exactly something you’d do when you’re mad so it just makes sense that a few minutes a day spent loving your baby calms the parent and helps them to better understand their baby’s cues and needs which leads to lower frustration and builds a happier home.
This might be the cutest baby ever (next to mine of course.)
I was also reminded to make learning part of bath time. This is the cornerstone of the #SoMuchMore campaign which reminds us that a bath just isn’t a bath, it’s a time when your little one is sitting and focused on what’s immediately around her so when you throw in games, shapes, colors, numbers, and songs, the bath becomes a classroom where your baby learns and grows. It’s so much more than just a bath. (Get it? So much more!)
We all talk about how our babies are little sponges just soaking up everything around them, but did you know that their brains are 85% developed by 3 years? Think about that. Your child’s curiosity, language patterns, temperament, and all of the important hallmarks of who they’ll be for the rest of their lives is developed in the first few years. Teach them whatever you can whenever you can.
A few photos from the trip!
I was so excited to get a pic w JHud and if you squint your eyes you can clearly see that this is us. Damn phone. Anyway, she was so generous with her time. She answered questions off the cuff about her family (her son can sing!) and how her travel schedule is tough having to being away from him. She was unguarded and sweet and seemingly unaffected by her fame.
I’ve followed Lisa Ling’s career from OWN to CNN where she’s so brave in her storytelling. She was so dynamic, polished, honest, and smart. She brought video of her husband bathing their daughter and photos from her birth. She took time afterward to connect with all of us as she took photos and gave interviews. I was so impressed by her commitment to the event.
Disclosure: Johnson’s Baby provided the travel and accommodations for the event. Every idea and word written is my own.