The benefits of infant massage
How infant massage benefits mom, dad and your baby.
Michigan State University Extension provides information on healthy development of infants. One way to encourage healthy physical and emotional health in infants is through infant massage. Infant massage has been around for a long time and is a part of nature. Right at birth, newborns are massaged while being dried. This helps to encourage a reaction from infants to take that very first breath. It also happens that infant massage is beneficial for both babies and parents. The British Journal of Midwifery (2015) states that the practice of infant massage provides benefits for both mother and your baby.
Benefits for Babies
A baby’s physical health, mental health and development are all impacted by infant massage. According to Asian Nursing Research Journal (2012), appropriate stimulation of the baby’s sense of touch positively affects psychosocial development and encourages attachment between a mother and her baby. Infant massage can assist with weight gain and overall growth, as well as the length of time a baby sleeps and how soundly they sleep. It can be used to calm a colicky baby by reducing stress, deepen the bond with parent by releasing the hormone oxytocin (the feel good hormone) and decreasing the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in both the baby and caregiver. Massage can also aid with the development of a baby’s motor skills.
Benefits for Parents/Caregivers
Infant massage has a positive effect on the mood state of parents/caregivers. The hormone oxytocin is released (like it is with a baby) creating a feel good reaction improving the mood of the parent. Parents who massage their babies gain more pleasure from playing with their babies and feel closer to their babies. Infant massage has also shown to assist with improving attachment and strengthening the bond between parents and their baby. The Pediatric Nursing Journal (2005) reported that parents/caregivers who massage their babies feel emotionally closer. Finally, when your baby sleeps sound, parents/caregivers can get some much-needed rest!
One Experts View on Infant Massage
I did a phone interview with Michale Curtis, who is a Trainer for Infant Massage USA. He teaches new parents, foster care parents and adoptive parents in the practice of infant massage. He encourages parents to learn to connect with their babies by simply being present. Start by, “Just putting your hands on their tummy and breathe deeply”. Take the time to look into your baby’s eyes. Listen with joy to their coos, watch how they reach out to you and try to communicate with you. He states that infant massage is a great way to help all caregivers (new parents, dads, foster parents, adoptive parents) gain confidence in handling and caring for their babies.
For more information, look to your local hospital for resources on infant massage. Many hospitals offer classes for new parents, including basics of baby care, infant CPR and even newborn massage.