Massage is utilized for different reasons, including increasing health and healing. The characteristics of massage include utilizing and touch and movement, usually by the hands but other parts of the body can be used. Typically in western society massage has been used for adults; however there has been an increase infant massage in the United States (Freeman, 2009). “The sensitivity of early interactions conveyed through eye contact, voice tone, facial expression and gentle touch plays a crucial role in healthy infant development. Infant massage has been adopted as an early intervention because touch offers a unique opportunity to support early interaction” (Barlow & Underdown, 2011, p. 21)
Massage can have many benefits for both the infant and the caregiver.
Benefits of Infant Massage
For the baby:
Aids in the infant-parent bonding experience
Helps in relaxation
Promotes better sleep
Boosts immune system
Helps digestion, circulation, and sensory development
Benefits for the parent
Assists parents in feeling more comfortable and bonded to their baby
Helps parents understands their infants sounds and cues
Parents learn ways to calm their baby
Overall infant massage stimulates, relaxes, bonds and relieves.
Infant massage is often used with pre-term infants to increase stimulation and growth. One study conducted showed that 60 minutes of massage each day assisted infants in sleeping better than compared to premature infants that did not receive massages. (Guzzetta, D’Acunto, Carotenuto, Berardi, Bancale, Biagioni, 2011).
Timing: find a time when you have enough time to devote to the massage. Do not do an infant massage when the baby is extremely hungry or has a full stomach
Position: Make sure you are comfortable. You can sit on the floor, the bed, or place the baby in your lap.
Massage Oils: oils can be used. Natural oils are preferred. Only a few drops are needed and should never be used on the infants head or face.
Baby’s readiness: Make sure your baby is ready. If the baby becomes over stimulated it is important to stop.
Video on infant massage
Find trainings near you
Find a certified infant massage specialist in your area
Websites of interest
Baby Massage: The Calming Power of Touch by Alan Heath and Nicki Bainbridge
Baby Massage: Soothing Strokes for Healthy Growth by Suzanne Reese
An Infant Massage Guidebook: For Well, Premature, and Special Needs Babies by Mary Ardy
Blogs on infant massage: http://www.babytata.wordpress.com
Barlow, J. & Underdown, A. (2011). Interventions to support early relationships: Mechanisms identified within infant massage programmes. Community Practitioner, 84 (4) 21-27.
Freeman, L. (2009). Mosby’s complementary and alternative medicine: A research based approach (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier
Guzzetta, A., D’Acunto, M.,G., Carotenuto, M., Berardi, N., Bancale, A., Biagioni, E., . . . . (2011). The effects of preterm infant massage on brain electrical activity. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 53(00121622), 46-46-51. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/896272401?accountid=28180