Thank you to Linda Storm, Executive Director of Infant Massage USA, for this guest post.
Summer is here and you will no doubt find yourself having fun in the sun. With that, you will be spreading on sunscreen and lotions to protect your skin and your child’s skin.* This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child, deepen your relationship, and make wonderful memories through nurturing touch.
We never outgrow the need for touch; however, as our children grow we don’t have as many opportunities to touch them as we did when they were babies. The use of sunscreen makes the touch more natural, and therefore, this is the perfect opportunity to reconnect and nurture the bond with your child.
Your natural response to pouring lotion into your hands is to rub your hands together. This not only spreads the lotion around your hands, but it warms the lotion and is a visual cue to your child that you are about to apply the lotion to their body. Before you touch your child, take an extra step to look at him with the intent to nurture them with touch and ask if you can touch him. This lets your child know that you respect her, she can trust you, and you are creating a special moment out of an everyday activity with the desire to deepen your bond.
As you apply the lotion take the opportunity to use all the elements of bonding to make the most out of these moments together. When you look your child in the eye and talk to him, he hears your voice and detects your intent. Is this just an absent-minded activity done in a hurry, or are you making this a special moment to nurture and show your love? As you rub in the lotion, feel your child’s skin and notice her muscles. Are the muscles firm, do they relax?
While you apply the lotion, feel yourself relax and enjoy the moment. A wonderful thing happens as we massage someone else; our body naturally releases hormones that help us relax to counter stress hormones. It doesn’t take any more time to be present and aware as you are applying the lotion, and it can help deepen your connection and make memories that last a lifetime.
After enjoying your time in the sun you have another opportunity to nurture your child. Once he has had a warm bath, apply some after-sun lotion. What a wonderful time to share the events of the day. Again, notice how your child responds to your touch and begins to relax.
Because you took a few extra moments to intentionally apply the lotion, you have nurtured your child and focused on your relationship. The touch has stimulated hormones and endorphins in your body and your child’s, which helps relieve stress and can help both of you feel more relaxed and sleep better. So go ahead, rub it in and enjoy a fabulous summer with your child.
Linda Storm is a certified educator of infant massage, a senior international trainer of infant massage, and Executive Director of Infant Massage USA.
*For help finding a safe, non-toxic sunscreen view the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Safe Sunscreen Guide.
photo from freedigitalphotos.net
Melanie Mayo-Laakso is the Content Manager for Mothering.com. Mothering is the birthplace of natural family living and attachment parenting. We celebrate the experience of parenthood as worthy of one's best efforts and are at once fierce advocates for children and gentle supporters of parents.