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Why I Love Infant Massage

What is “Infant Massage”?

Infant massage is a unique and enjoyable opportunity to connect with a baby or child through positive and intentional touch. It may sound like a generic term for massage for babies, but it is actually a process consisting of a series of specific strokes and a variety of specialized massage techniques that can be modified to benefit any age and many special needs.

When I talk about infant massage, I am referring to an entire experience that includes the massage itself, as well as the one on one quality time, back and forth communication, and often mutual feelings of relief and relaxation.

As touch is the most developed sense for newborns, it can be quite relaxing for baby, but research also shows that nurturing touch plays a crucial part of early development and growth while promoting physiological, neurological, and psychological development and function.

The infant massage we are talking about today is the modernized form supported by evidence-based research. It began to appear in western cultures in the early 70s, however it has been a parenting tradition found in recorded history in many different cultures around the globe that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Benefits for Babies and Children

  • It helps baby learn to relax.
  • It improves immune system.
  • It promotes attachment and communication.
  • It boosts cognitive development.
  • It decreases the production of stress hormones.
  • It helps to regulate *digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems.
  • It aids in sensory processing.
  • It helps relieve discomfort from gas and colic, congestion, and teething.
  • It boosts muscle development.
  • It stimulates growth and healthy development.
  • It increases serotonin levels and regulates melatonin secretion rhythms which helps regulate sleep patterns for sounder, longer sleep.
  • It is fun!

*Enhances the digestion process by stimulating our food absorption hormones – glycogen and insulin. The systems of the body are stimulated during massage which assists in the absorption of nutrients and elimination of what is not needed.

Benefits for Caregivers

  • It is relaxing to massage baby.
  • It improves caregiver-infant communication.
  • It helps in understanding and responding appropriately to baby’s nonverbal cues.
  • It provides special focused time that helps deepen bonding that any caregiver can do (just one example- eases stress of parent who must be separated from child during the day.)
  • It promotes feelings of competence and confidence in caring for baby.
  • It increases caregivers’ ability to help child relax in times of stress.
  • It helps caregivers be more aware and alerted more quickly to changes in baby’s health and development.
  • It is fun!

(ref: www.lovingtouch.com , www.healthofchildren.com)