Gentle infant massage has become very popular—and for good reason. Besides feeling good, infant massage has some great health benefits.
Infant massage supporters, along with some health experts and medical researchers, are actively studying the benefits of massage and the results are very positive, with benefits on everything from digestion to sleep to parental bonding. Babies prone to gas, constipation, or other digestive difficulties can find relief from infant massage as it encourages gas to move more easily through the intestines. Bowel movements may become regulated after massage.
Massage also improves sleep. A quiet massage can help your baby release tension from an environment of constant stimulation. The relief from this stress can result in longer, more restful bedtimes and naptimes. Massage also reduces fussiness. Your soft voice and gentle touch may lessen irritability and crying, and some parents find that a massage helps calm their colicky babies.
Massage even encourages growth. Some studies have shown that massage can improve blood circulation and stimulate areas of the brain that facilitate food absorption, which results in increased weight gain. Infant massage might help premature babies, too. When performed properly, a moderate-pressure massage might promote weight gain and earlier hospital discharge.
Most important, infant massage promotes bonding. Infants communicate through touch, and a massage can help them feel loved, nurtured, and secure. Close, affectionate time with Mum or Dad only strengthens the quality of that parent-baby attachment. Practitioners who teach infant massage report benefits to the parents as well. Parents who learn massage are actually learning ways to comfort and calm their babies. They report a better understanding with their baby’s signals and an increased confidence level. They also report enjoyment and bonding with their infant.
Not all babies like massage, so only do it if it calms your infant. Similarly, if your baby has any health issues, speak to your paediatrician first before trying massage. Your doctor may also be able to recommend a licensed infant massage specialist to help address your baby’s particular needs.
- Touch Research Institute
- Infant Massage, The Mayo Clinic
- Infant Massage: Understanding this Soothing Therapy. American Massage Therapy Association
- Tender Touch. Preterm Infant Massage Therapy Research: A Review.
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