Story Massage Routine

Making up stories to go along with your massage routines is an excellent way to encourage discussion, promote imagination, and make massage more interesting for your child. Once you are both completely relaxed and as comfortable as possible, in whichever position suits you both best, the first thing to do is to ask your toddler where they would like to be massaged and what story they would like to hear. This helps them understand their body, and helps them become involved in the massage in general. It keeps them interested and gives you a way to remember the steps involved too!

You must begin the massage with asking for your child’s permission. Without it, you should never attempt to continue to massage your baby or toddler, as it could put them off massage completely, and will only serve to make everyone tense and stressed. You will soon be able to understand how your child is feeling and will know when it is the right time to attempt a massage.  When the time is right, why not try our story massage below and get to know Mumma Love’s characters, The Jungles, some more.

Here is the story, just encase you didn’t want to follow the video – sometimes it’s easier to go at your own pace.

Harper the Hippo didn’t want to go to bed

Harper the Hippo didn’t want to go to bed, she was having far too much fun in the jungle, plodding around trying to find her friends.

Put one hand on top of the other and make a figure of eight from one shoulder, across the top of your child’s back, to the other shoulder. Repeat up to four times. 

First, she found Ernie, but he didn’t want to play, he was too busy splashing water from his traffic trunk.

Next, keep curving your hands and stroke down your child’s shoulders to their wrists. Repeat two or three times. 

“What are you doing? “Harper asked in an inquisitive tone. “I’m giving myself a nighttime bath” yawned Ernie, blowing a big bubble from his nose. “You should be doing the same Harper, the moon is nearly up.”

Put one hand on top of the other and make large sweeping circles across your child’s back to represent Ernie blowing a bubble. 

Next, stroke your fingertips around your child’s back in a circular motion to represent the moon 

“But I’m not tired” huffed Harper, and off she plodded deeper into the jungle.

Make fists with your hands and press them lightly up your child’s back to mimic Harper plodding deeper into the jungle. 

Next, she bumped into Rory the Lion; he had bubbles all over his hair… “You look funny Rory” giggled Harper as she looked at Rory’s bubbly head. “I’m getting squeaky clean before bed Harper, that’s what I’m doing, you should be doing the shame, the moon is nearly up” instructed Rory in his gruff lion voice.

Walk your fingers up to the top of your child’s head, and begin to massage there. The motion required is much as though you were shampooing their hair, using the tips of your fingers and rubbing the scalp. 

“But I’m not tired” huffed Harper, and off she plodded a little deeper into the jungle.

Stroke down from the head to the base of the spine. Then make fists with your hands and press them lightly up your child’s back to mimic Harper plodding deeper into the jungle. 

After a while of plodding Harper noticed her friend George the Giraffe lying in the waterhole, he was covered in big, bright, bubbles, staring at the stars twinkling in the night’s sky. 

Lift your fingertips so that your hands are arched, and press them lightly all over your toddler’s back, one at a time, sweeping up and away, this move represents the stars.

George noticed Harper staring at him from a distance and with a Yawn shouted: “Harper come and join me, the moon is up, look how bright it’s making the bubbles.”

Put one hand on top of the other, in a large sweeping motion make a circular movement across the back to represent the moon.  

Harper was intrigued, the bubbles where so bright, so she slid in the water next to George and stared up at the moon. The warm water on Harper’s skin made her feel happy and relaxed; it even made Harper a little sleepy.

Put one hand on top of the other and make a figure of eight from one shoulder, across the top of your child’s back, to the other shoulder.

Next, use your fingertips to trace a horseshoe or U shape over your child’s stomach to represent Harper being happy.

Harper plodded out of the water. “Where are you going” questioned, George.

“I’m tired” whispered Harper. And with that, she shook dry and tucked herself up to bed for the night.

Stroke up your toddler’s back and squeeze down their arms to represent being tucked into bed. 

Goodnight, Harper, Good Night.

With the palm of your hand make a waving motion on your child’s back to say goodnight. 

Story Massage

Being a parent is a rewarding, magical and an exceptional time. And being the parent of a toddler… well, let’s add some frustrations and some delights into the mix, as new ideas and concepts come together with limitations on what your child can do. That hasn’t changed from when they were tiny, of course, but it’s now that they can ensure that you – and everyone else in the near vicinity – knows about it!

Parenting a toddler can be a time of high stress, as well as immense pleasure and, although in years to come you will look back on this time and wonder why you worried, whilst you are living it, everything just seems to be another layer of pressure until you feel as though you might collapse beneath the strain of it.

This is especially true in today’s high energy, high-stress world when the workday doesn’t end when you leave the office, and the world of social networking can add to feelings of guilt, or simply not being good enough. Family commitments, work, and general household tidying can also combine to make you feel as though you are neglecting your toddler.

But there is a way to reconnect. A literal way to get back in touch with your child and that’s through massage.

Toddler Massage

If you have got five minutes (or more) every day, you can ensure that you and your toddler become closer than ever. It’s all about touch – adding just five minutes of massage, for example, into your child’s daily routine can give both you and them peace, relaxation, and calm. It unwinds, it de-stresses, and it bonds.

Massage has been hailed for centuries as a way for everyone – no matter what age – to gain at least a little well being. Positive touch is understood to have huge health benefits, and positive touch with love behind it… there can be nothing better. If you want to boost your child’s immune system, make them feel loved, give them a better sleeping pattern, give them better cognitive function, aid social development, as well as keeping them calm, then a daily massage is an easy, enjoyable (for both of you!) way to get closer.  

And the great thing is, there is no need for any specific, professional training. A gentle, caring massage will work whether you have years of experience or are trying it for the first time. It’s all about the love behind it.

The wonderful thing about massage – also called ‘touch therapy’ – isn’t just for those times when there is something emotionally wrong. It can even help with a physical pain, which is why it is an amazing tool for help with teething, constipation, headaches, or minor sinus problems.

The difference between a ‘traditional’ massage (where an adult will want to float away in relaxation, and just let the masseuse take control and do their thing) and a toddler massage is that the child needs to be involved in the touch therapy in some way. It keeps them motivated and interested, and it also helps to relax them. One way to do this is to use nursery rhymes or funny poems (Twinkle Twinkle or This Little Piggy work really well) to explain the movements of your hands. Your child will understand more, and will remember. The repetitive sounds will calm them as well.

Benefits of Toddler Massage

There are both emotional and physical health benefits that come from a soothing, bonding, enjoyable toddler massage.

Emotional benefits include:

  • Bonding. As mentioned earlier, bonding between parent and child is essential for a well rounded, happy, healthy toddler and stress free parenting time.
  • Relaxation. It’s not just relaxing for the child, it’s relaxing for the parent too. Heart rates slow, the mind is given some space, and ultimately everyone unwinds and feels freer and happier.
  • Behaviour. Hyperactive or aggressive children can really benefit from a massage (or rather, an on-going change to a routine that includes massage).

Physical benefits include:

  • Digestion. Massage can aid digestion, meaning that toilet function is improved – your toddler will need to go more regularly, which will also help with potty training, since they will understand the feelings associated with needing to go to the toilet much more quickly.
  • Circulation. Massage also promotes blood circulation, which not only makes the child feed great, but makes their skin healthy too since oxygen and nutrients are also flowing around the body.
  • Internal organs. Internal organs are stimulated through massage, and develop better this way.
  • Immunity. Massage helps the lymphatic fluid on your toddler’s body to flow more easily, which in turn boosts your child’s immune system.
  • Growth. Even the growth hormone within the pituitary gland increases production.
  • Joints. Massage is relaxing, we all know that. But relaxation is a physical sensation as well as an emotional one, and massaging a toddler will encourage their muscles to relax, which will free up their joints. This is ideal for when they have been running around all day, and might be a little stiff now that they have finally stopped moving! It also means that as they get older, their joints are kept in tip top condition.

Introducing Positive Touch To Your Child

If you have been massaging your child since he or she was a newborn, then continuing the practice won’t be an issue, and your toddler will be familiar with how it all works, what to expect, and how happy they will feel during and afterwards. However, if your toddler has never had a massage before, then it can be a strange sensation, and it can be difficult to explain just what you are doing, and why. After all, a small child won’t understand what it means to be calm and stress-free until they feel it, and they won’t understand the correlation between massage and that euphoric state until they allow it to happen.

Persistence is the key. But it is persistence coupled with acceptance; acceptance from your child to have the massage done to him or her, and acceptance from you that, even at the best of times, they may not want to have it done. Forcing your toddler to have a massage will undo any good work you might have been aiming for and, what’s worse; your child will not feel happy voluntarily having any kind of massage after being made to have one that they did not want. Positive touch is a wonderful thing, but it must always be consensual.

When To Massage?

Adding massage to your toddler’s bedtime routine is a great idea. At this point in the day, massage has been shown to promote deeper, longer sleep, and it will also help your toddler to fall asleep in the first place – they will be totally relaxed and able to simply drift off happily. As a bonus, during massage the oxytocin (or ‘love hormone’) levels are elevated, which leads to a fantastic bonding experience.

Toddlers are great at accepting new ideas when it comes to their routines as long as familiarity of some sort is involved. Repetition helps too. So if you are thinking of adding a few minutes of massage before bedtime, it is best to pick one specific spot in your home and stick with it. This is the massage area, and soon enough your child will accept this new way of working. The best place for the calmest start has to be the child’s own bedroom. They already associate peace and calmness (usually!) with this room, so why not play on this association technique when it comes to massage too? If your toddler has issues with his or her room, then the relaxing sensations that come with the massage – the safe, secure, trusting ones – may well help to make the room better for them in general.

If you are using the floor, or choose to be by a door or window, make sure there are no drafts. The room should be warm for the best results, especially as the ideal massage will be carried out when your child is partly undressed.

It is essential to create the calmest atmosphere that you can; otherwise all of your good work will be undone. To create this ideal atmosphere, why not play some gentle music (instrumental is best since songs with words may distract your child, especially if he or she is familiar with it) or sounds of nature? Or perhaps keep the room as quiet as possible and allow the essential oils infusing the air to do the job. Make sure the light is as dim as possible (this could be difficult in summer time when the light lingers outside for longer, but with a good black out blind you shouldn’t have too many problems) without being entirely dark. Candles are an excellent way to light massage time, but of course, you must take extra care when it comes to naked flames and small children who are unpredictable at the best of times!

Turn off the television, leave your phone elsewhere, and don’t allow yourself to be interrupted. This is a special time between parent and child, and should not be disturbed.  

Different Massage for Different Ages

When your baby is brand new, the massage you give to him or her will be a little different to the one you give your older toddler. That is because a toddler has more control over their body, and will move a lot more than a small baby – as any parent knows! It is more difficult to ‘control’ a toddler, and it doesn’t matter how restful the room is or how relaxing the massage is, there will come a time when your child has had enough and decides that it is over.

The best way to keep a toddler involved in the massage process is to talk to them about it. Find out where they would like you to massage, which also teaches them to name body parts. Make the massage into a game (an educational one if possible, as this will obviously help with their brain development). A good way to do this is to create a story with the massage. Work together to come up with a character, and incorporate that character into the massage ‘story’. Ask questions to continue the story, and soon enough your toddler will be interested enough to lie still and enjoy the massage. For story massage ideas, head over to Mumma Love Organics youtube channel or check out our blog.

Super First Foods for Babies

When it comes to weaning, there is no shortage of advice, tips, recipes and more for new parents. Online, in books, word of mouth- this is how the modern parent picks up the tips and tricks that have been passed down from generation to generation. But do we really know enough about what our babies can be eating? Are we really giving them the very best that mother nature has to offer? The term ‘superfood’ is relatively new and fairly on-trend right now, but don’t let that put you off. And don’t be fooled into thinking babies can’t benefit from a diet filled with superfoods too. Here’s our very quick guide to super first foods for babies- enjoy!

Blueberries

These little gems make ideal finger foods and they’re great for snacking on the go too. I mean, we’re all busy, right? Pop some into a little pot, or sprinkle on top of porridge in the morning. It doesn’t really matter how you serve them, as long as you give them a go. Why? Because blueberries are literally bursting with nutrition and they pack a punch when it comes to health benefits too.

Blueberries help to maintain healthy bones, lower blood pressure, maintain heart health, improve cognitive function and to maintain a healthy digestive system. They’re filled with calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K, alongside good levels of fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin C and vitamin B6. So what are you waiting for?

Avocado

Avocados are literally bursting with so many amazing nutrients that you’re going to want your little one to eat. THey’re packed full of healthy fats that are great for maintaining heart health; they’re also thought to help prevent high cholesterol and they’re a good source of vitamin E which is essential for eye health. And, of course- they’re delicious! Avocado makes a great finger food for babies, or you can mash them and add to toast, use as a dip for breadsticks… so many options!

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are another fabulous first food for babies and such an excellent source of healthy nutrients too. They’re filled with vitamin C and fibre, plus they contain a great source of carotene which is an antioxidant thought to prevent certain types of cancer.  The great thing about sweet potatoes though is the taste! Babies love the naturally sweet taste and you can serve them either pureed for very young eaters, or as wedges for more confident diners.

Eggs

So-called ‘nature’s fast food’-  and for good reason too! Eggs are so easy to prepare and so full of goodness for your little ones. Packed full of protein and healthy fats, they’re so versatile and such a great addition to your little one’s diet. Served them hard-boiled for finger foods, or scrambled on toast, or even soft boiled with wholewheat toast soldiers. Its is advisable to check with your doctor first if your baby has allergies, but otherwise, eggs make a fantastic addition to your baby’s diet.

Beans

Another super versatile and super tasty treat for babies! Beans are filled with antioxidants, fibre, iron, protein and vitamin B. And you don’t need to just reach for the nearest tin of baked beans either! Beans can be served in a variety of ways, and they’re best without the sugary sauces too. Buy them dried, soak overnight and make your own sauce filled with vegetables for added nutrition.

Oats

Oats are a wonderful source of fibre, vitamin E, zinc, iron and magnesium, and they also contain good levels of protein too. Again, oats are versatile because you can serve as porridge for breakfast, add to smoothies for added energy, or mix with banana and peanut butter for quick and easy no-bake flapjacks. Delicious!

It’s important for your baby to have a balanced diet, but don’t worry too much if she rejects some of the foods you introduce. Stay patient, and try again in a couple of weeks. Many of the superfoods listed above can be ‘hidden’ inside dishes if your baby really doesn’t like the look of them, but what makes them great for babies is the fact that they are all moderately mild tasting and generally accepted by babies. Give them a go today and let us know how it goes!

Baby Massage for Baby Blues

Baby blues also known as postnatal depression is a form of depression which occurs after giving birth. Around one in six mothers suffer from this condition although it not always diagnosed, let alone treated. As to what exactly causes postnatal depression, no one is entirely sure and it could well be that a number of different factors play a part. Biologically, after giving birth there is a sudden drop in hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, which can cause a depression-inducing chemical imbalance in the brain. Psychologically, if you have suffered from, for want of a better word, ‘normal’ depression in the past, this may make you more likely to suffer from postnatal depression as well. Socially, after the excitement of the baby’s arrival and the streams of visitors start to fade, this can leave the new mums feeling somewhat lost and alone.

While it is normal to suffer mood swings in the first few weeks after birth, if these symptoms do not clear up within a month this could be a sign of postnatal depression. It usually develops in the first month and a half after giving birth, but it is not restricted to this timeframe and there are many cases where it does not fully set in for a number of months. Partners and others close to the new mother need to keep an eye out for the symptoms of postnatal depression so it can be diagnosed and dealt with as swiftly as possible. And if you are suffering postnatal depression yourself, it is important to bear in mind that it is an illness and try not to feel guilty about how you may feel towards your new baby.

Signs of Postnatal Depression

  • Feeling very low, or despondent, thinking that nothing is any good, that life is a long, grey tunnel without end or hope.
  • Feeling tired and lethargic, or sometimes feeling numb, not wanting to do anything or take an interest in the outside world.
  • A sense of inadequacy – of feeling unable to cope.
  • Feeling guilty about not coping or about not loving your baby enough.
  • Being unusually irritable, which has the, unfortunately, tendency of making the guilt worse.
  • Being tearful and crying, or at least wanting to cry.
  • Being hostile or indifferent to your husband or partner.
  • Being hostile or indifferent to your baby.
  • Having panic attacks, which strike at any time, causing rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, and feelings of sickness or faintness.
  • An overpowering anxiety, often about things that would not normally bother you, such as being alone in the house.
  • Obsessive fears about your baby’s health or wellbeing, or about yourself and other members of the family.

A Natural Way to ease your Baby Blues

If you are looking for a natural way to help cure your baby blues it’s worth giving baby massage a try. Baby massage is widely known to provide many benefits for baby, but there are also great benefits for the mother too. Studies have shown that mums who are suffering from Post Natal Depression hugely benefit from baby massage. The increased eye contact with baby, along with the calm one to one time has proven to improve mood and strengthen bonds between mum and baby.

Massaging your baby could help you to feel better. Baby massage can help mums who have mild depression, as well as those who are more deeply depressed.

If you have postnatal depression (PND), you may struggle to take any pleasure from looking after your baby. Everyday tasks, such as feeding and bedtime routines, will feel like a real trial for you.

Having PND can also make it harder for you to communicate with your baby. For example, your baby may gurgle and then leave space for you to respond. But if you’re feeling depressed or anxious, it’s easy to miss your baby’s cues. You may be feeling distant from your baby, or think that you’re not quite in tune with what she needs.

The good news is that baby massage can help you to bridge this communication gap, and allow you to focus on your baby.

Massage stimulates the release of your body’s natural feel-good chemical, oxytocin. When oxytocin floods your body, it helps you and your baby to form a close bond. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and can help heal the horrid feelings postnatal depression brings.

Making eye contact with your baby, and chatting to her, may come more easily when you’re massaging her. This close physical contact can help you to be sensitive to your baby’s needs, and your baby will start to respond more to you, too. Those everyday tasks that have been a struggle should gradually become more manageable.

How to get started

You do not need to be a professionally qualified masseur, but some parents may initially feel daunted by something they are not experienced with. If this is the case, speak to your health visitor or local baby group to see if there are any classes that you can attend. Alternatively, there are lots of instructional videos online that you can refer to for techniques and tips. It’s a good idea to read up on baby massage before you start so that you are able to understand the principles behind it, and how it may benefit you both.

10 Steps to Basic Baby Massage

  • Always start with the legs, as this is the least intrusive area. Begin by holding baby’s right foot in your left hand, gently stroking up the leg with your right hand from the outside of the ankle, up over the knee and to the inner thigh, then sweeping down the inside ankle, repeat 3 -4 times.
  • Now use a kneading technique to move up your baby’s leg. Hold their ankle with one hand to keep the leg in place, and use your other hand’s fingertips and thumb pad to knead from ankle to thigh. Make sure you don’t put pressure on the knee joint, and it is very delicate. Once done, glide your hand back down and start the process again. Repeat 2 – 3 times
  • Gently use your thumb to lightly circle the soles of the feet, gently squeezing and releasing baby’s toes one by one.
  • Glide your hands up to the tummy area. This is an ideal time to introduce little circles with your fingertips around your baby’s tummy. Helping breaks down trapped wind. Massage a baby’s tummy clockwise as this is the way the digestive tract runs.
  • Complete the front by placing both hands in the centre of baby’s chest and sweep up and out over the centre of the chest, over the shoulders and hugging the entire length of the arms finishing off at the fingertips. Massage each finger from base to tip but do not attempt to restrain your baby if he/she curls fingers, kicks or moves arms.
  • Gently turn baby over and use the whole hand to stroke from the shoulders, down baby’s back to the buttocks. To take care of baby’s delicate spinal area always work either side of the spine
  • Use both thumbs to make small circles around the top of the buttocks using both hands, starting in the middle and moving towards the sides.
  • Move to the back of baby’s leg glide up and down the leg gently. Switch hands as you move to ensure continuous contact and pressure.
  • Using a long, light and rhythmical strokes glide from the head to baby’s toes, this finishes off the back area.
  • Carefully turn baby over, wrap them in a warm towel or blanket and pick them up and give baby a lovely cuddle.

For more baby massage guides why not try out my video’s on youtube, like the one below.

Much Love, Samantha x

Gentle Bedtime Routine.

Establishing a bedtime routine is key to instilling good sleep habits in your baby.  A calming bedtime routine that follows a predictable pattern every night helps give your baby the cue that it’s time to put their little heads down to rest. This, in turn, helps them settle more easily. A mother needs time to relax and wind down after a busy and demanding day with an infant. From as early as twelve weeks we can incorporate gentle sleep methods into an infant’s routine, which can help them sleep more soundly.

We can teach an infant that bedtime is safe and help them relax by regulating the environment where they sleep. Lights should be dimmed and the room quietened, with no over-stimulating colours or objects. We here at Mumma Love Organics believe creating a calm atmosphere is essential in helping to soothe and settle your baby before bedtime. Perhaps play gentle instrumental music to help them recognise bedtime easier or infuse the air in the room with the light fragrance of Lavender Essential Oil (aromatherapy oils with their natural settling properties can be diluted and added to the room the baby sleeps in before they begin their bedtime routine). A recent study reported that mothers who used nursery aromatherapy in their infant’s bedtime routine were more relaxed and shared more physical contact and positive cues (such as smiling) with their child. The mother’s relaxed state helped calm the infant, who provided more eye contact and smiled at their mothers, cried less and finally spent a greater length of time in deep sleep. Reduced levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) were also exhibited by both mother and child.

The essential oils used in aromatherapy stimulate the olfactory senses that dictate your sense of smell. The signals produced trigger the brain’s emotional response, resulting in the creation of mood-changing hormones. Not only does this help relax your child, in time they will begin to recognise the fragrance of the essential oils as a part of their bedtime routine.

To disperse a calming aroma around the room, infuse the air with essential oils about half an hour before settling your baby to sleep. To do this, add 3-4 drops of oil  to one pint of steaming water in a bowl. Make sure the bowl is placed away from the infant’s head and out of reach of other children and animals. The steam will gently infuse the molecules of the essential oil into the room.

Bathtime Bliss

While waiting for the oil to evaporate you can give your baby their nighttime bath with our relaxing bedtime bath wash blended with lavender to help soothe and settle your baby. The sensation of warm water produces the hormone oxytocin, and when oxytocin levels are raised, feelings of trust are elevated. After baby’s bath, wrap them in a warm towel and take them to the perfumed nursery to carry on with their routine.

The aromatherapy teamed with a bath will result in a very relaxed baby. This feeling can be enhanced by incorporating a bedtime massage, as this act releases yet more oxytocin, while the increased flow of blood delivers oxygen and nutrients around the baby’s body aiding a deeper, fuss-free sleep. (Please below my directional video guide for bedtime massage). After the massage, dress baby for bed and supply one last feed before bedtime. Once the baby is ready, place them where you wish them to sleep in their still awake but drowsy state and give them a kiss goodnight.

Bedtime Massage

Comfort, Settle & Sleep Roller Blend Remedy: Aromatherapy working its Magic!

Aromatherapy is often praised for its ability to create a sense of calm, but less is known about its powerful yet gentle capacity to heal. For babies suffering from minor complaints or disorders, aromatherapy can provide some efficient solutions that can be used time and time again.

However, it is important to take precautions with essential oils, as they tend to be potent in their concentrated form and babies are naturally sensitive to every kind of stimulus. By diluting the oils in a carrier oil, you can ensure the aromatherapy solutions you use will be suitable for the delicate skin and excitable senses of your child.

There are a range of essential oils that can be used to provide relief from common ailments in infants, but today I’m going to be talking about two of my favorites – Lavender and Roman Chamomile.  These oils work wonders in treating an array of common ailments in infants but are partially good for promoting sleep.

I learned about the power of these two wonder oils in my aromatherapy training, but what made me fall in love with them was witnessing the profound benefits they had on my own children.  Chamomile is naturally calming and is known for its soothing powers; making it an ideal oil to help settle little heads down to rest for the night. But, Chamomile is not only a natural relaxant; it also has the power to soothe away irritability in children, which in turn, aids in better bedtimes and sounder sleep.

 Lavender, on the other hand, is an excellent tonic for the nerves, when the oil enters the child’s body (through the child’s skin) it relaxes the nervous system, calms the mind and eases anxiety. This isn’t just good for inducing sleep at the end of a busy day; it’s also perfect for children who suffer from separation anxiety. Lavender has a natural ability to help settle children and put an anxious mind at ease, making bedtimes that little bit more blissful.  

Throughout the years of working with families, I have noticed that one question seemed to be on nearly every new mother’s lips and that was if I knew of a safe, gentle sleep remedy to help their child (and themselves) get more rest. Luckily I did and I’m about to share it with you…

Comfort, Settle and Sleep – Roller Blend Remedy.

Rollers to the rescue! I love using roller blends to administer aromatherapy to children; they are so easy to use and very effective. This rollerball remedy will give you the confidence you need to tackle bedtime battles with ease and help you create the peaceful bedtime us parents dream of.

Ingredients:

10ml Roller Bottle (readily available on Amazon or eBay)

1 drop of Lavender Essential Oil

1 drop Roman Chamomile Essential Oil.

10ml Grapeseed oil.

Method:

Place oils in the roller bottle and fill to the top with the carrier oil, before screwing on the top and giving it a good shake.

You can use the blend as part of your child’s night-time routine. All you need to do is roll the blend on your child’s feet or back of their neck (behind the ears) at bedtime to help promote calm sleep. This remedy is also great for taking out night terrors. Plus more, it can be used on stressed-out parents too. I often use this remedy after a busy day juggling work, kids, house, dog, etc. It’s perfect for calming the mind and soothing the soul.

Caution: Always patch test before using a product on your child. Also, beware of shop brought roller balls. A lot of these balls lack the right level of essential oil due to manufacturer costs and do not work effectively. When buying a product always look for the mark of trust. The product should be certified by the aromatherapy trade counsil or the soil association.

I love using holistic therapies on children; it has been my passion for many years. Why not have a look at my infant reflexology video below, perfect to use as part of a bedtime routine, it works especially well with my roller blend recipe!

Much Love and hopefully sleep

Samantha x

Infant Reflexology

Reflexology works on the basis that parts of the foot correspond to different parts of the body and that stimulating these parts (know as zones) on the foot can release tension or help relieve pain caused by illness. According to reflexologists, energy form the point that is touched is transmitted across a network of nerves from the feet to other parts of the body to help the area heal, such as the stomach for example (great for helping colic) or teeth (perfect for teething).

Babies are especially responsive to reflexology. Many mothers will instinctively rub their children’s feet and hands when their child is cranky, crying, or uncomfortable. Reflexology works very well for most Infants.

Infants’ feet have undeveloped arches, and their skin and bones are usually fairly soft making reflexology an effective and fast modality for young children. By applying gentle pressure to congested areas in the feet, blockages can be released to restore the flow of energy to the whole body.

This technique’s ability to be used on the move, as well as a complementary practice to be used alongside massage, has quickly allowed it to gain popularity amongst the parenting community – especially when their infant is proving difficult to soothe in a busy supermarket! Incredibly easy to learn with no need for prior preparation, only a few minutes of reflexology are required for results.

Infant reflex foot map

Reflexology massage

Always begin reflexology by rubbing your hands together to warm them before handling your baby’s feet – there is no need to use any oil when carrying out a reflexology massage. Remember, this is a special and fun time for you and your baby, so sing, talk and just relax. 

Using reflexology on a daily basis can really help to heal your Infant’s body by detoxifying, relaxing and balancing it, helping detect and even treat imbalances before your infant may even experience any symptoms.

The following routine can be used every day in its entirety, or each section can be used as when you need it, even when you are on the move.

The routine

To start, support your infant’s feet with their heels in your palms. Hold the child’s feet loosely, so they can remove their feet if they start to become oversensitive. Keep your strokes soft but firm, as infants are very responsive to this touch therapy.

Digestive complaints

  1. Allow your infant’s foot to relax into your palm of your hand.
  2. Put the pad of your thumb under the big toe and with a gentle but firm pressure, glide around the base of the toe. Remove your thumb and repeat 3 – 4 times.
  3. After this movement, glide the pad of your thumb down to the centre of baby’s foot and make small circular movements in a clockwise motion.

This area stimulates the vagus nerve which supplies the nerve pathway to the heart, stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen, small and large intestines and gall bladder. Its function is to facilitate normal digestion and metabolism in the body, so the technique is greatly beneficial for any kind of digestive complaint. The last movement where you glide your thumb towards the centre of the foot addresses the stomach’s reflex point, which when stimulated, is excellent for maturing and toning the digestive system helping with colic, reflux and constipation.

Soothing and settling

  1. Rest your infant’s foot in the palm of your hand and place the thumb of your opposite hand on baby’s big toe.
  2. With a firm touch, glide your thumb softly along the outside of the infant’s foot ending at the heel.
  3. Return to the top of the big toe and repeat 4 – 5 times.

This area represents the spine, which houses the central nervous system, transmitting messages from the brain to sensory and motor nerves throughout the body. Stimulating this area calms your infant; it is an excellent reflex point to use if your baby has become over-stimulated throughout the day and needs some quiet time.

Promoting better sleeping patterns

  1. With your infant’s foot resting in your palm, wrap your hand gently around the foot to secure.
  2. With your opposite hand, use the pad of your thumb to make circular movements just under the centre of the diaphragm line.

This technique works on the solar plexus reflex point, which is a network of nerves situated just below the diaphragm; a useful area to consider when seeking to calm your child. This is an excellent technique for parents on the go, as it will release oxytocin into the infant’s system, helping them relax and settle if they become fretful when in public.

Colds and congestion

  1. Stimulate the sinus reflex points – this area is located up the back and sides of the toes.
  2. Place your finger and thumb pad on the infant’s little toe and use a squeeze-and-release pressure to break down any clogged up mucus.
  3.  Repeat along each of the toes.
  4. Once you get to the big toe, increase the pressure just slightly as this reflex point corresponds to the head. This area should be caressed; put all your love into the massage and softly press on the big toe.

This technique will help release tension in an infant’s head as a result of the cold, and soothe their sinuses. These movements overall are very beneficial for infants as they are nasal breathers at birth and often become congested easily due to increased bacteria in the nasal cavity.

  Teething

End your massage with the teeth reflex – this technique is important when your baby is going through its teething period. The reflex point for baby’s teeth is found on the front of the toes, below the nail. 

  1. Securing your infant’s foot in your palm with the opposite hand, press up against each toe. After finishing each toe, rotate once in a clockwise motion and recite the song of ‘This Little Piggy Went to Market’ to your baby:

“This little piggy went to market”

“This little piggy stayed at home”

“This little piggy had a massage”

“And this little piggy had fun”

“And this little piggy went to sleep…shh.”

Reflexology with children can begin at birth and can be used as a valuable tool for parents to dissipate their children’s stresses in a nurturing way.

Reflexology is particularly beneficial for babies who have experienced a difficult birth such as forceps or ventouse. Tiny bones of the skull will have experienced great pressure as a result of the use of these instruments, and it has been found that these bones can be marginally misaligned. Reflexology can help to correct this in the gentlest of ways.

You can use reflexology as a natural healing therapy for minor illnesses as well as a preventative maintenance tool for good health. For more infant reflexology routines check out our video below.

Top Ten Homoeopathic Remedies for Babies and Children

Homoeopathy (or the modernised spelling of ‘Homoeopathy’) invented in the late 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, is the art of treating ‘like with like’. Hahnemann believed that by using a very minute amount of a substance, that would ordinarily create a certain reaction within the body, would aid the body to cure itself of the same affliction. Homoeopathy is one of the most popular systems of healthcare in the world today, beloved by many including the UK’s Royal Family. Although it has its critics, its popularity is not waning and used as a complementary addition to modern healthcare, rather than an alternative to it, homoeopathy can prove very useful, particularly in instances where conventional remedies are not advised, such as pregnancy, when many discover homoeopathy for the first time.

It is important to highlight that the remedy suggestions below are not intended to replace conventional medicine or medical advice and at all times if you are concerned about the health and wellbeing of your child you should contact your family physician.

The following are perhaps the ten most useful remedies to include in a family’s ‘homoeopathic first aid’ kit:

Allium Cepa

Made from onions, this tells us pretty much all we need to know about this remedy. Stinging, itching, teary eyes, a runny nose, sneezing and lots of thin watery mucus are all Allium Cepa indications. The most common scenario therefore that we would use allium cepa is in treating hay fever.

Allium symptoms tend to be worse for being inside in a warm room and better for being outside in the cool air.

The most common potency for Allium Cepa is 30C

Apis Mellifica

Apis Mel, or just Apis, is made from the honey bee. This, therefore, is our go-to remedy for insect bites and stings, particularly when they become very sore, swollen and red.

The most common potency for Apis is 30C

Arnica

Arnica is perhaps the most famous homoeopathic remedy. Most people know it for its healing effects on bruising, however, it is used for so much more. The chief symptoms to look for when prescribing arnica for a physical complaint are feelings of soreness, lameness and bruising, however, arnica is contraindicated if there is a break to the skin. Arnica can be useful for post birth healing, for both the mother and the baby if the birth has been natural (remember if there are breaks to the skin, as in a C-Section, it is contraindicated), it is especially useful if the baby has been born via ventouse or forceps. For the mother it is a great help for helping to pass urine after the birth, especially if her perineum and urethra are swollen.

Arnica can also be used for many emotional states, particularly shock and emotional trauma. A key indicator here is a child who is upset but conversely wants to be alone.

For physical issues give in either the 200C potency (for anything birth related) or 30C potency (for all other physical issues), for an emotional issue consider the 200C or 1M potency.

Belladonna

Belladonna – otherwise known as ‘Deadly Nightshade’ is all about reddy/purple colouring, great heat and a violent nature of onset – such as a sudden fierce temperature. The child will often have a dusky red hue to their skin that will feel as if it is on fire when you touch it. A key word associated with belladonna is ‘throbbing’ – any pain associated will be a fierce throbbing pain. Belladonna is all about blood – and is therefore a good remedy for nosebleeds, particularly ones with lots of fresh bright red blood, it is also good for ailments relating to the sun, such as a headache brought on by too much sun or sun burn.

Belladonna is also a handy remedy for night terrors, where the child thrashes around and is prone to violent lashing out. It is commonly associated with a hazy glazed look to the eyes, whether during a night terror or a fever.

The potency of choice for Belladonna in most cases is 200C

Bryonia

Bryonia is all about dryness (remember ‘bry’ = ‘dry’). The two most common reasons this may be used as a family remedy are a dry cough and constipation. The key to remember with a bryonia cough is that it is dry and extremely irritating, if the child is mucus or coughing up phlegm look elsewhere.

The most common potency for Bryonia is 30C

Calendula Tincture

Calendula tincture is made from marigold petals. It is the only one of our ten remedies that is used externally on the skin. It is the remedy of choice for wound healing – particularly open cuts and is a great addition to the first aid cabinet in a house with an accident prone toddler who is always grazing their knees. It can also be healing and soothing for nappy rash and is commonly found in commercial nappy rash creams for this reason. It is simple enough to make your own calendula tincture at home for those who are green fingered!

Calendula tincture is best used by placing 3-4 drops in a cup of lukewarm water and then gently dabbing the affected area with cotton wool and leaving to dry naturally.

Chamomilla

The two most important words to remember for chamomilla are “calmness contraindicates”. Chamomilla, made from the chamomile flower, is all about whiny, grouchy, clingy, unhappy children. It is particularly suited to teething babies and this is probably why most parents are aware of it. A ‘chamomilla teether’ will often have one red cheek and their nappies will often look like they contain dark green chopped spinach! They are very clingy unhappy teethers, however although they want to be held, the holding often won’t help and although they cry to be picked up they will often push you away again when you hold them.

For a teething baby consider the 200C or 1M potency, use the latter if the baby is a very ’emotional teether’.

Mag Phos tissue salts

Magnesia Phosphorica – or Mag Phos as it is more commonly known – is what homoeopaths call a ’tissue salt’. It is famous for its effects on cramps and colicky feelings and as such is the top homoeopathic remedy for colic. It can also be helpful for post birth after pains and menstrual cramps and for cramps caused by a diarrhoea and vomiting bug.

The most common potency for mag phos is the 6x potency.

Rhus Tox

 Rhus Tox is produced from the ‘Poison Ivy’ plant – which gives us a good clue as to its uses. In a family first aid kit its most common use is to ease the itch of chicken pox. Rhus Tox is particularly indicated for symptoms that are worse at night and negatively impact sleep as a result.

From an adult’s point of view it’s a handy remedy to have if you are suffering from flu or have severe aches and pains that are initially made worse by moving, but then are better for movement.

The most common potency for Rhus Tox is 30C

Walnut Bach Remedy

Not strictly a homoeopathic remedy, Bach remedies are made in a similar context. Walnut is a wonderful remedy for children as it is the chief remedy for ‘change’. It aids in making transitions – such as separation anxiety, starting school, moving through tweendom and approaching puberty. Walnut also seems to help during teething too.

For older children one drop directly under the tongue, for younger children, a drop placed in some water is the dosing of choice.

 

Natural Ways to Soothe Nappy Rash & Digestive Complaints in Infants

Nappy rash is a very common complaint and, except in very severe cases, you don’t need to consult your doctor. As the name suggests, nappy rash is a skin irritation on the baby’s bottom or genital area – the parts usually covered by a nappy.

When your child’s skin comes into continued contact with ammonia, which both urine and faeces contain, this can cause a pink or red rash in patches or spots. This is often sore and sensitive and will cause your baby evident discomfort. Nappy rash can also be caused by fungal infections, which tend to develop in warm, humid conditions such as those found in nappies.

Natural Solutions and Remedies

The best solution for nappy rash is prevention, which simply involves increasing the frequency with which you change your baby’s nappy, and ensuring you change them as soon as possible after your baby has made use of them! Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to stop nappy rash developing, and the following can help to aid quick recovery:

  • Allow your baby as much time as possible without a nappy on, as this will allow plenty of air to get to the affected areas. In case of accidents, it’s worth lying your baby on a towel or, if she has started rolling, crawling or is otherwise mobile, on a floor that is easy to wipe clean. Ensure the room is not too cold; you could even take her outside if it’s warm enough.
  • Try washing the affected area with a herbal infusion, such as lavender or chamomile, which will help to protect your baby’s skin and hasten the healing process.
  • Try homeopathy: calendula cream is great for soothing the unpleasant burning and itching caused by nappy rash. Don’t lay it on too thickly, though; apply a thin layer to the affected area (thin enough that you can clearly see the skin) before putting on a clean nappy. Calendula cream will also provide a layer that will protect your baby’s skin from the effects of ammonia.

Caution

If the nappy rash has developed to the extent where the skin is cracked or broken, or blisters or swellings have appeared, take your baby to the doctor, as this may be a sign that there is some kind of infection.

 Constipation

Simply put, constipation is when faeces becomes harder and drier than usual, making it difficult and even painful to go to the toilet. If your infant is suffering from this condition, this may be indicated by evident discomfort when she is trying to empty her bowels, or she may not go to the toilet as often as she usually does.

Most of us will be familiar with this unpleasant condition, which can have a variety of causes – the majority of which are not serious. If constipation is not dealt with quickly, however, it can result in problems due to the build-up of waste product in your baby’s intestines.

The following are the most common causes:

  • Dehydration, especially in hot weather, as it causes faeces to dry out more quickly than usual
  • Certain types of food, since constipation is concerned with the digestive system
  • A diet that is too low in fibre or too high in dairy products
  • Other starchy or stodgy foods, such as bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes and bananas

Bottle-fed babies often suffer in this way because formula milk is much harder to digest than breast milk (breast milk is easier for a child to digest than pretty much anything else, so when you start to wean your breastfed baby onto solid food, you may find she suffers from constipation).

Natural Solutions and Remedies

While simply changing your baby’s diet will often relieve constipation, there are other treatments you can try that may also help to get things softened up and on the move:

  • Try fruit juices: some juices, such as grape and prune juice, can help relieve constipation, though it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before introducing new foods to very young babies. Around 50 ml (2 fl oz) of diluted fruit juice twice a day is usually recommended.
  • Give your baby (if weaned) high-fibre foods, such as fruit (not bananas), vegetables, beans and wholemeal grain foods; these will help tackle constipation. Avoid giving too much squash or milk, which tends to have the opposite effect.
  • Bath your baby in warm water with a drop or two of lavender essential oil. This has two benefits, as the lavender will help ease any pain caused by constipation, while the warmth of the water should help to relax your baby, allowing ‘things’ to get moving.
  • Try homeopathy: Bryonia (bryony) is helpful for relieving dehydration and general dryness, and so is recommended for constipation. Nux Vomica can also assist when your baby clearly wants to pass their stool though without success. (Please seek advice from a qualified homeopath before giving homeopathic remedies to your baby.)

Try alternating the following two exercises:

  • Gently massage and rub your baby’s tummy in a spiral motion, starting at the belly button and gradually moving outwards. As the digestive tract is laid out in a clockwise direction, it’s important not to massage anti-clockwise.
  • With your baby lying on her back with her legs lightly held in a half-bent position, slowly move the legs as though pedalling a bicycle. This can also help to relieve excess gas.

Watch our directional video to help guide you through… 

Diarrhoea

Essentially the opposite of constipation, diarrhoea is often more concerning and distressing, though neither condition is pleasant. It is usually defined as the passing of loose or watery faeces at least six times in a single day – often at the most inconvenient of times for parents to deal with!

There are a number of things that can cause babies to suffer from diarrhoea, including bacterial or viral infections, intolerance to certain types of food that they find hard to digest, teething, or it may be that something has upset your baby or made her anxious. The bottom line is that, while with constipation too much fluid is absorbed from the bowel, with diarrhoea something is preventing that fluid from being absorbed properly.

Natural Solutions and Remedies

When your baby is suffering from diarrhoea it’s very important to bear in mind the risk of dehydration, as she will be losing a lot of valuable fluid. Make sure you keep her topped up with plenty of cooled boiled water or extra milk, to maintain healthy fluid levels. In addition to this, try the following to help tackle this unpleasant ailment:

  • Feed weaned babies mashed ripe banana – this will help their digestive system recover. Adding a teaspoonful of pectin-rich carob powder will also assist in binding things together.
  • Give your baby some aniseed water, as this will help to calm upset intestines and encourage gas to be passed. Simply grind one or two points of star anise as finely as possible and pour half a cup of boiling water over it. Once this has cooled, use a dropper to give your baby 3–6 drops orally whenever there are signs of an upset stomach.

Caution

If your baby’s diarrhoea is accompanied by fever or vomiting, or if she has had six or more occurrences of diarrhoea in the space of twenty-four hours, consult your doctor.

 

Attachment Parenting: Bonding with Baby

With a myriad of parenting choices available to us all, it can be difficult to establish which one will work best for you. Often it is a case of trial and error, and armed with all available information it is up to you as parents to decide what works best for you and your family.

An increasingly popular parenting choice for many new families is ‘attachment parenting’. This style of parenting focuses on the connection that can be built between a child and his parents and is often viewed as an excellent way to bring up children to be empathetic, secure and independent as well as enabling them to grow into understanding, caring and rounded adults.

What is Attachment Parenting?

The philosophy of attachment parenting revolves around giving you, as parents the tools that you need to provide a nurturing environment for your child in which their direct and indirect needs are understood and consistently responded to. It involves treating your child with respect, kindness and dignity so as to build a long lasting relationship – or attachment – rather than rejecting their needs, leaving a divide between you both.

  • Attachment parenting builds and strengthens an emotional connection between parent and child.
  • A child who feels secure will be more likely to become an independent and confident adult.
  • Parents’ should respond to their child in a physical, verbal and emotional way when they are sick, upset, scared, tired or worried.
  • Children who trust their parents when they are growing up will learn to trust others in their lives and have the confidence to explore their environment.

Attachment Parenting Practices

There are certain practices that are available to those parents who choose attachment parenting, but remember that this is not a check list that needs to be strictly adhered to. Attachment parenting is a lifestyle choice and as such has the ability to be moulded to your family’s specific situation. Some of the practices of attachment parenting include:

Breastfeeding: Recent statistics published by UNICEF show that in 2010, 81% of newborn babies were being breastfed. (http://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/about-baby-friendly/breastfeeding-in-the-uk/uk-breastfeeding-rates/) Breastfeeding is an excellent way of making an initial bond with your baby and taking the first steps to getting to know him. As he grows, you will be able to read his cues and body language and reinforce your bond. Breastfeeding not only provides your baby with every single nutrient he needs to grow and develop in his first few months, but also stimulates your body to produce oxytocin and prolactin (also known as the mothering hormone).

Baby-Wearing: Wearing or carrying your baby helps them to learn from you, gain confidence and be reassured. Evidence shows that carried babies are less likely to cry than non-carried babies, often reducing their crying by over 50%. (http://wrapsodybaby.com/babywearing-resources/baby-wearing-myths-vs-facts/). Baby-wearing also improves the sensitivity of you, as a parent. You get to know your baby very well and will really enjoy understanding their needs and wishes from a very early age.

Co-Sleeping: If you work during the day or do not get to spend as much time as you would like with your child then co-sleeping is an excellent way to reconnect with them. However, it is important to remember that the best sleeping arrangement is one that sees all the family getting the best night’s sleep. For babies, night time can be an unfamiliar and scary experience. Co-sleeping can help to relax and reassure them, helping them to sleep soundly. It is also beneficial to breastfeeding, as your baby has access to the breast whenever he needs it.

Understanding Your Baby’s Cry: Getting to know your baby means getting to know his cries. You will very soon realise that he has a different cry for each situation. Responding to those cries quickly and sensitively will help to build your relationship. Not only will your baby be comforted by you, you will learn to trust your mothering instincts when it comes to what your child wants or needs.

The Benefits of Attachment Parenting

It may be slightly overwhelming when reading through the practices of attachment parenting and wondering if it really is something that you can incorporate into your life, especially with all the stresses of bringing home your newborn. Thankfully, the benefits of this type of parenting will last a lifetime; so just remember that if you want it, you can achieve it and seeing your happy, content baby growing up to be an inquisitive and confident toddler and a respectful and independent child will reassure you that you made the right decision. For a little extra incentive, here are some of the advantages of attachment parenting:

  • Promoting independence: Attachment parenting will nurture your child’s mind. With the right tools, your child will develop a strong bond between you which will also help to provide a secure base upon which to explore the unfamiliar and gain confidence and independence.
  • Improving behaviour: An attached baby will cry less, be less fussy and less clingy. This all comes from how the baby feels and whether they feel valued and cared for. If your baby feels good then they will act and behave well; they will not need to ‘act up’ to get what they need, they will already have it.
  • Improving development: If your baby is not crying as much, then what are they doing in their ‘free time’? Well the answer is – they are learning. And with more time to learn, they are able to develop effectively and become more receptive to learning.

Follow Your Own Parenting Instincts

It is true that many parents begin to follow the principles of attachment parenting, not because they have researched and invested in it, but because they are just doing what comes naturally to them and their baby. The key to becoming a loving, caring and successful parent is to be relaxed, calm and receptive; so remember this throughout motherhood and your children will grow up to be happy and health members of the family.