Review by DIANA ROSLAM
TEACH YOURSELF: BABY MASSAGE AND YOGA
By Anita Epple and Pauline Carpenter
To tell you the truth, I was dumbfounded when I first held this book. Baby massage and yoga? Do babies need to be massaged? Are they not too fragile for this kind of exercise? Intrigued, I started reading. As a new mother, the need to know all about babies excites me.
My baby, Emma, received her first massage from my massage lady when she was two weeks old. Emma’s calm stature convinced me that she was ready for massage.
From reading this book, I learnt that adults are not the only ones who need massages. Babies need to be massaged, too. The technique is not quite the same though.
What is baby massage?
According to the book, massage derives from India, as a form of Ayurvedic medicine since 1800BC. Since then, many countries in Asia have advocated massage to encourage health and bond between mother and child.
Through this intensive book, I have spent my confinement period learning how to massage Emma. It’s wonderful how a parent’s touch can help relax and calm a baby. I have learnt how to handle Emma at night when she would not stop crying or would not sleep, had trouble burping and much more.
I also picked up a few easy-to-remember massage techniques. What started off as just a way to calm my baby after a tiring day has become a daily affair for both of us. Every evening before she gets into her night romper, I would spend at least five minutes massaging and talking to her. Sometimes it includes interaction with her toys – a baby's attention span is very short so parents are encouraged to use toys to keep them entertained.
The authors understand that parents simply don’t have time to read and the book starts off with the quickies: “Only got a minute/five minutes/10 minutes?” This is especially fantastic for parents who have to work and have got no time to spare. I find that it is an absolute plus - it helps when you are in a mad rush and your baby won’t stop wailing!
Step by step
Starting something foreign is never easy, especially when you are handling a newborn baby. With that in mind, the authors have included a simple step-by-step guide. It includes storytelling, playing music and nursery rhymes to further increase development during the massage. Parents are made comfortable with massages first before going on to yoga. Even so, the yoga section starts off easily with safety and effectiveness in mind.
Simple and easy
This book is for the layman and you needn't be a massage or yoga expert to understand it. It’s suitable for parents and helpers of all ages; you can even get your 16-year-old sister to read this and help you with your baby.
The style of writing is very straightforward and clean cut. Bullet points, italic fonts and all capital letters are used to separate each topic. Needless to say, it certainly helps sleep-deprived mums (and dads) from being bored or falling asleep while reading the book.
Easy on the eye
For those who learn better visually, the book has included illustrations to help explain each massage with elaborate instructions. This really makes understanding each technique easier.
Each chapter in this book is separated into sections; namely Insight, Activity, Summary, Things to Remember, and Case Studies. This helps contribute to easy reading for parents short of time and sleep-deprived.
Special needs children and beyond
Parents and guardians of special needs babies are not forgotten. There is ample advice, tips, suggestions and activities you can try with your baby. However, if you feel that your baby is not ready, don’t worry. There are simple and practical steps which include easy exercises for your baby before massage and yoga. There is also a section on how to alter massages for your growing child, too.
There is only one thing I wish this book had – some kind of tear-out leaflet or poster so that readers can frame it or paste it against the wall and refer to while massaging instead of rummaging through pages whilst handling baby.
That said, this is indeed a useful and resourceful book to read.
If you are a parent or guardian suffering from sleepless nights with your baby or are interested to find out how you can bond with little ones, this book is for you.
It is also a perfect gift for first-time parents.