Why is Infant Massage Good for Babies?
Why is Infant Massage Good for Babies?
Gold Coast Doulas is thrilled to present a guest blog from Cristina Stauffer. Cristina Stauffer, LMSW, CEIM has been passionate about serving women and young children throughout her career. Pregnancy and early motherhood can be one of the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life. Cristina has been dedicated to supporting women through this delicate time by providing therapy and support, education and screening about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and through teaching parents and caregivers the joy of infant massage. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and from Boston University with a Masters in Social Work. Cristina became a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) in 2005 and has incorporated this practice into many aspects of her career. She has been practicing in the field of social work with a focus on women and young children for over 20 years.
Why is infant massage good for babies?
Most of us recognize that we are never too young or too old to enjoy nurturing touch or the practice of massage; however, many people still wonder why they should learn to massage their baby. Research over the years has shown that infant massage has many benefits for both parents and child, but the most important aspect of infant massage is simply the opportunity to just be with your child. The quality of the infant massage interaction is very powerful and allows you to enjoy a special experience with your baby, both physically and emotionally. Other benefits of infant massage include relaxation for both caregiver and child, improved sleep habits for babies, promotion of healthy digestive function in babies, better body awareness, and encourages positive parenting skills. Let’s explore the benefits of infant massage in each of these areas further:
- Massage reduces fussiness.
- Massage helps a baby learn to relax and reduce stress.
- Massage helps a baby handle sensory input and respond to it with relaxation.
- Daily massage time offers parents a time to relax and unwind from the busy pace of life and to connect with their child.
- Massage increases a parent’s ability to help their child relax in times of stress.
- Research has shown that massage helps improve the quality of baby’s sleep and encourages the baby to fall asleep faster after massage.
- Massage increases oxygen and nutrient flow to cells and helps to deepen respiration.
- Many parents report noticing improved sleep habits such as longer naps or more restful sleep after incorporating infant massage.
- It is not unusual for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep during infant massage classes or private instruction.
- Research has shown that massage strengthens and regulates the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems.
- Massage stimulates baby’s ability to gain weight, especially for premature babies.
- Massage helps to relieve the discomfort of gas and colic, teething, and congestion.
- Infant massage instruction helps parents to better understand how the digestive system works and how to help relieve gas and constipation.
- Infant massage class materials include a massage routine specifically targeted to relieve tummy problems such as pain, gas, constipation and colic.
- Parents become more aware of how the baby’s belly looks and feels and are better able to identify possible tummy trouble.
Better Body Awareness
- Massage enhances children’s body awareness and encourages positive feelings about their bodies.
- Massage encourages children to feel “in charge” of their health as they grow and provides a healthy alternative to deal with stress.
- Massage helps babies learn to accept and tolerate positive touch which is especially beneficial for babies who have been hospitalized.
- Massage builds parent’s respect and understanding for their baby’s unique body, cues, and nonverbal communication.
Benefits for Parents and Caregivers
- Massage provides intimacy and special time for caregivers and child, including fathers.
- Massage helps parents to feel more competent and confident in their parenting role.
- Parents learn how to touch and respond to their baby in nurturing ways.
- Massaging their baby increases prolactin production (the “nurturing” hormone) in the parent allowing them to feel more relaxed and loving toward their child.
- Group massage classes provide an opportunity for mutual support from other parents.
- Massage provides an opportunity to connect, interact and share quality time with babies and children at any age.