The benefits of baby massage
- Massage allows a time-out from the stresses of the day for both baby and parents. It provides an opportunity for one-on-one bonding time. One-on-one uninterrupted time with shared touch, eye contact, smells, sounds, and voice help you understand each other more deeply. Massage time helps build trust.
- Giving your baby massage can be a calming time for both of you.
- Massage stimulates the production of certain ‘feel good’ hormones including endorphins and oxytocin. When baby is feeling good from a massage, most likely you will, too.
- It can help with pain relief. Endorphins released with massage are a natural source of pain relief. So, if your baby is feeling discomfort from teething, gas pains, or colic, massage may help. In addition, there are specific strokes for common baby discomfits that can help to minimize their distress.
- It enhances your baby’s awareness of their own body, such as the size and location of body parts.
- Massage assists babies in balancing between high muscle tone and low muscle tone. Most of us tend to be a little unbalanced in terms of how we hold our posture. Babies can be this way, too. Some hold their bodies more tightly while others are more laid-back and even overly relaxed. When approaching massage in a holistic manner, we tend to add more stimulus for the laid-back baby and a slower, more deliberate approach for the tense baby. Or you may find yourself adapting your massage depending on the mood present during the occasion.
- If your baby has special needs or was born prematurely, there may be a Certified Infant Massage Instructor in your area who can guide you.
- Massage supports your baby’s ability to fulfill their individual developmental potential. Massage does this by supporting the maturation of the nervous system, in turn assisting brain and body communication.
- It relieves physical and emotional stress in your baby. Babies who have had invasive medical procedures, separation from family, a difficult birth, or other traumatic events may carry anxiety related to being touched. Focused time during massage, listening to your baby, and approaching the massage with respect and sensitivity, can help to heal fear and rebuild trust and enjoyment of the skin they live in.
- The experience of receiving a massage can help your baby to be more aware of how to relieve their own stress. Through mom or dad’s touching, massaging, and stretching baby’s limbs, your baby will learn to do this for themselves when they need it.
- Massage may pave a smoother path through childhood illnesses because it supports a healthy immune system. It does this by assisting efficient circulation of blood and lymph around the body and by engendering feelings of happiness.
- Giving a massage to your baby helps them to discern what is safe touch and therefore to recognize, as they are growing up, what is not. Vimala Schneider McClure, author of Infant Massage, A Handbook for Loving Parents says, “recent findings indicate people whose infancy was secure, who were held and listened to, who had good eye contact with their parents, and who were generally cherished tend to have healthier relationships with others.”
- Massage may facilitate better sleep.
- Massage is a great way to let your baby know they are loved and cherished.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.