Children's Health

Touching on 6 Benefits of Infant Massage

When we think of massage therapy, we think of it mostly as a way to soothe our aching adult muscles whether we’re lifting boxes all day or staring at a computer screen in an office. While massage is a great drug-free way to manage pain and improve range of motion, it also has benefits for those who haven’t yet left the crib.

Infant massage is an age-old practice (dating back to 3,000 B.C.E. in some cultures) and a popular modern method of improving the well-being of your child, while helping you as a parent learn techniques you can apply at home. It’s also a great way to bring you and baby closer in a healthy and productive way. Here are six benefits of infant massage…

1. Bonding

As already mentioned, infant massage is a great way for you and junior to spend quality time together. Research from the Foundation for Healthy Family Living refers to the power of “touch communication”, which it describes as “vital for the development of attachment behavior and for early social development of the young child”.

The source also notes that infant massage teaches you as a parent to respond appropriately to your baby’s cues, as well as learning the level of nurturing your child needs. This early bond with a parent will set the tone for all subsequent relationships in life, adds the site.

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2. Colic Calming

Colic is a term used when your baby seems excessively fussy or cries a lot (without being able to be consoled). BabyCentre UK notes that “babies do tend to cry less and be less fretful when they are being massaged”, although it’s hard to prove how much impact massage actually has on the colic phase.

Perhaps one of the bigger benefits here is that you as the parent can help feel more in control of your baby’s crying, which is empowering. The site other points out that infant massage at home is free and can be enjoyable time with your little one. This can reduce your own stress, as well as your baby’s.

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3. Sleep Promotion

If your baby is giving you a hard time about falling asleep in the evening or even for naps, infant massage could be the safer answer (than using sometimes expensive products designed for this purpose). BabySleepSite.com suggests trying infant massage first before turning to white noise machines and other solutions.

While infant massage can naturally calm baby (and you) as mentioned earlier, it can also help send baby to dreamland more easily. This benefit is apparently backed up by studies that show babies who have been massaged sleep more readily, deeper and for longer durations of time, according to the source.

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4. Physical Development

While infant massage has the mental benefits of reducing stress for you and your infant, it can apparently translate to better growth, according to OVCMT (College of Massage Therapy). The source notes that the delicate strokes used in infant massage can encourage promote proper growth and development by stimulating nerves and increasing blood flow.

Infant massage can also help in the case of premature birth, according to the site. It cites a study by Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami that shows massaging premature babies for 15-minutes 3-times per day equated to a 53-percent increase in weight on a daily basis. Infant massage also aids in brain and neurological development, adds the source.

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5. Immune Boosting

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine specifically refers to the benefits for pre-term (premature) infants when talking about infant massage. Touch is important early in life to help stimulate the immune system and help your baby to resist infections, according to the source.

This can be particularly important in a pre-term facility when infants are exposed to “loud noises, bright lights, and the drawing of blood” that can tax their immune system, notes the college. The source even goes on to say that gentle massage can increase the amount of “natural killer cells” that can battle HIV or cancer in babies, and that massage can also encourage production of immunoglobulin A against respiratory ailments.

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6. Digestion Improvements

Processing food and liquids can be tough on junior’s system, creating a lot of gas and related discomfort. ParentsCanada touts indigestion as one of the biggest benefits for infant massage, noting it “stimulates a particular nerve to release a digestive hormone”.

Massage can also aid in bowel movements if your baby has become irregular, which is often the case early on. With less gas and pain, baby will naturally sleep better and their mood could improve right along with it. Again, this could save you money in products designed to handle this problem.

Mom feeding healthy baby

 

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