Benefits of baby massage
It is through touch that the baby starts exploring the world. Baby massage can help reinforce the power of skin to skin contact. Baby massage has been practiced for hundreds of years in many cultures. It has well established benefits for babies and parents.
Benefits for you
- Helps you gain a deeper understanding of your baby's behaviour and body language
- Provides an enjoyable opportunity for you to spend one-to-one time with your baby
- Brings you closer to your baby and deepens your bond
- Helps build confidence in holding and handling baby
- Offers relaxing effects of giving your baby a massage, you feel relaxed too
- Increases confidence in your ability to care for and nurture your baby
- Builds social networks as you will meet new parents
- Provides a life-long parenting skill
Benefits for baby
- Relief from colic, wind, constipation and teething pain
- Develops body awareness and coordination
- Helps develop trust and build a sense of security
- Increases relaxation and encourages deep sleep
- Helps tone floppy muscles
- Strengthens bonding and communication
- Reduces crying and emotional distress
- Boosts circulation and regulates temperature
- Stimulates baby’s digestion, nervous and lymphatic systems
- Helps baby to feel loved, valued and respected
- Increases recognition of facial and emotional expressions
which supports development of social skills
- Helps with language, memory and concentration
The benefits of baby massage can be classified in four main benefits: relief, relaxation, stimulation/development and bonding.
- Relieves from colic and wind.
- Eases colds and nasal congestion.
- Relieves teething and growing pain.
- Speeds myelination* between the nerve cells in the stomach and the brain.
- Skin to skin contact releases hormones like prolactin and oxytocin, known as ‘the feel good hormones’, these hormones help to balance the levels of stress hormones (cortisols) and help lower blood pressure and heart rate.
- Baby massage helps to increase the baby’s stimulation threshold helping to make him/her better able to cope with stimulating environments and better able to process information.
- Babies can learn to relax by feeling their parents are relaxed whilst giving the massage.
- Babies that are relaxed tend to sleep better and deeper.
STIMULATION AND DEVELOPMENT
- Studies have suggested that the brain cells of a baby not exposed to touch can degenerate and die more quickly as a result of such deprivation, limiting the development of the baby.
- Stimulation of the skin speeds myelination of the nervous system.
- Better brain to body communication can help to prevent colic and unsettledness cause by overstimulation by helping the nervous system to mature.
- A bond between an adult and a baby is not easily explained and it is difficult to instantly create. Bonding is a process which takes place over time.
- Baby massage plays an important part in beginning, enhancing and continuing the bonding process. Some key factors have been identified in the process of bonding, and all of these factors are present during the baby massage experience: eye contact, sound of voice, odour, oxytocin, prolactin and most importantly, touch.
*Myelination is a term in anatomy that is defined as the process of forming a myelin sheath around a nerve to allow nerve impulses to move more quickly.
Source: BODY BASICS 2003