Use a daily baby massage to build a special relationship with your newborn baby and enjoy many other benefits of infant massage.
In the womb and at birth the two senses that are most sensitive are touch and hearing. Babies are particularly sensitive to touch and pressure, so you can use this to start communicating your love for her and to encourage her to relax and stay calm.
Massaging your baby will also encourage her to become responsive to her environment.
Researchers are finding that infant massage may promote better sleeping, help to relieve colic, and even enhance an infant's immune system, motor skills, and cognitive development.
Emotional Benefits of Baby Massage
- provides interation and communication which promotes bonding and a positive relationship
- baby feels loved, comforted and reassured
- helps baby to relax
Physical Benefits of Massaging Your Baby
- enhances deep relaxation
- encourages deep breathing
- stimulates many systems of the body
- improves digestion
- helps with elimination of waste
- helps increase blood circulation
- improves skin condition
- improves muscle tone
- increases the infant's awareness of self
- may help relieve congestion of the sinuses
- helps relieve teething pains
- helps relieve colic and calms fussy babies
- encourages growth
- improves immunity
- helps promote sleep
- increases weight gain in premature babies
- lowers stress hormones and increases oxytocin - the 'love' hormone that gives a sense of pleasure and calm
Benefits to Parents
- relaxes you
- strengthens parent-child bond
- enhances confidence of parent
- improves non-verbal communication
- helps you learn to know your baby
- reduces post-partum depression
Baby Massage Tips
- Make sure the room is warm so that your baby won't get cold during the massage.
- The lighting should be subdued for a calming effect.
- Do the massage when your baby is in a quiet alert state - not when she is fussy or sleepy or just after a feed
- A good time might be after a bath. Create a regular time for your baby's daily massage routine.
- Undress your baby and lay her on a blanket on a flat surface such as your changing mat or on the floor.
- Use natural baby lotion or plant-based oil, like sweet almond oil. Don't use commercial baby oil as this is usually mineral-based.
- Warm the lotion and your hands by rubbing them together before you touch your baby.
- Begin at the head with gentle strokes and work down her body towards her toes.
- If your baby cries, becomes irritable or shows any negative signs, move to another part of her body or stop and try again another day.
- Encourage baby's dad to learn to massage her so that he can also enjoy the benefits of this special time with his baby.
Watch the baby massage video below for a demonstration of infant massage techniques.
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- Field M, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego L, Feijo Y. Vera Y, Gil K. (1996). Massage therapy by parents improves early growth and development. Infant Behavior & Development 27: 435–442. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2004.03.004
- Underdown A, Barlow J, Chung V, Stewart-Brown S. (2006). Massage intervention for promoting mental and physical health in infants aged under six months. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.18;(4):CD005038.
- Procianoy RS, Mendes EW, Silveira RC. (2010). Massage therapy improves neurodevelopment outcome at two years corrected age for very low birth weight infants. Early Hum Dev.
- Kelmanson IA, Adulas EI. (2006). Massage therapy and sleep behaviour in infants born with low birth weight.Complement Ther Clin Pract. 12(3):200-5.
- Diego MA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M. (2008). Temperature increases in preterm infants during massage therapy. Infant Behav Dev. 31(1):149-52.
- Feijó L, Hernandez-Reif M, Field T, Burns W, Valley-Gray S, Simco E. (2006). Mothers' depressed mood and anxiety levels are reduced after massaging their preterm infants. Infant Behav Dev. Jul;29(3):476-80.
- Onozawa K, Glover V, Adams D, Modi N, Kumar RC. (2001). Infant massage improves mother-infant interaction for mothers with postnatal depression. J Affect Disord. 63(1-3):201-7.
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Infant Massage Quotes
Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant, food as necessary as minerals, vitamins and proteins.
Dr Frederick Leboyer
Bonding is a unique relationship between two people. It is specific and endures through time.