Infant massage is an ancient practice that dates back for hundreds of years and the art of massage has been handed down generation to generation to promote healthy family development through nurturing touch and compassionate communication. Our ancestors knew this instinctively.
Research, clinical studies and clinical observations all support the many physical, psychological and emotional benefits of infant massage for baby, parents, siblings and even for society.
Here are 6 ways to nurture your baby and growing child by making massage a part of your daily routine.
Through regular massage your child will feel the love and feel loved. As a new or experienced parent, if you take time out of your busy schedule and turn off the phone, computer, ipad and focus soley on your baby or child, this communicates pure love.
2. BONDING / ATTACHMENT / COMMUNICATION
Through regular massage you and your child will be able connect and communicate thus facilitating the bonding process. Elements of bonding such as eye contact, smell, smiling, and vocalization are present during the massage. Older children can verbalize thoughts and feelings during massage and feel they are being heard by their parents, which helps strengthen the parent / child relationship.
Through regular massage your child will feel more relaxed and it will help release tension in your baby’s body and mind. Studies show that babies who receive regular massage had a decreased level of cortisol (stress hormone) compared with those who did not receive bedtime massage. Massaging your baby helps release maternal hormones such as prolactin and oxytocin which produce feelings of well being and nurturing which is beneficial for both baby and mother. Pediatric massage can help decrease anxiety and tension in a growing child.
Through regular massage babies can sleep deeper and longer. Studies demonstrated that at 8 weeks old the massaged babies had more regular sleep/rest patterns and by 12 weeks old they had increased melatonin, which is the sleep regulator. If your baby sleeps well, you in turn can sleep better. A well rested parent is more nurturing. Regular nighttime massage in an older child can help promote sleep and signals it is time to relax and quiet the mind.
5. RELIEF FROM PAIN AND DISCOMFORT
Through regular massage your child’s aches, pains and discomforts can be reduced by performing specific massage strokes for gas, colic, teething, constipation, congestion, headaches, and growing pains.
6. STIMULATION OF SYSTEMS
Through regular infant massage your child’s neurological development can be stimulated, as massage speeds up myelination of nerves. Massage can stimulate the immune system and tones the digestive tract which helps stimulate food digesting hormones resulting in increased uptake of nutrients, decrease gas and improved elimation. Pediatric massage can also help improve muscle tone and muscle relaxation, joint mobility and respiratory function. In older children it can also help reduce aggressive behavior and enhance body image and self esteem.
If you are interested in learning more about infant/child massage, Baby Strokes offers Infant/ Child massage instruction classes in a private or group setting and in-home children’s massage for a child over 1 year. The owner, Melanie Wattles, is a Registered Nurse (RN), a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI 1, 2) and a Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist (CPMT). She is also a parent educator for Seton/Ascension Health where she teaches Prenatal Infant Massage.