Infant and Toddler Massage
I just recently made a trip to my hometown to welcome and meet my new baby brother! He is a healthy 9lb, 28in, and 6-week-old ladies boy named Treyton. He is my lucky number seventh sibling! I’ve been around my fair share of baby brothers and sisters, but seeing that brand new smile never gets old!
I was really excited to teach mom about infant massage and all of the incredible benefits for both baby and mamma! Daily infant massage is a very special way to bond with baby and has been proven in numerous studies to have strong physical and intellectual benefits for your baby!
Great for Preterm Infants– Even small doses of infant massage can have big benefits for a premature baby and their parent. Research has shown that infants receiving touch and massage therapy gain weight faster and are discharged from NICU earlier than other infants – in some studies, premature infants were released almost a week earlier than those not receiving any therapy. Touch is a powerful tool, and introducing it at such a pivotal and growth stage will help develop baby’s proprioception and awareness.
Increases Strength of Immune System– Research shows that infant massage can positively influence physiological processes and improve immune function. Light infant massage is especially beneficial for babies who are bottle-fed compared to those who are breast-fed. The natural defense that breast milk provides is important when your baby has to fight off a common infection. The light and specific massage increases the motility and production rate of the lymphatic system, which will strengthen baby’s’ ability to filter and fight off pathogens. A strong immune system is supported by a healthy diet, adequate rest, and movement; massage for your baby will increase his/her appetite, help them sleep better, manually encourage movement to all parts of his/her tiny body, and directly encourage a healthy immune system.
Helps Digestion and Motility Rate for Baby– Massage stimulates elimination of waste from the body. This is true for grown adults as much as it is for babies! Our digestive system needs a little help sometimes, and when baby has an upset stomach there are many easy techniques that can be used to help relieve his/her constipation. Massage stimulates a key nerve, called the vagus nerve, which connects the brain with important parts of the body, including the stomach. Stimulating this nerve can improve digestion and bowel movement, helping your baby to gain weight.
Increases Bond Between Baby and Parent– Research has found that parent’s felt more confident, less stressed, and more connected with their baby’s body after introducing daily massage into their routine. It’s a great opportunity to observe from head to toe what changes your baby is going through, and possibly being able to observe and early diagnosis of potential health issues. Massage also connects parent to baby’s cues, giving them the opportunity to recognize specific patterns in the baby’s body language.
Relieves Sinus and Chest Congestion – Massage helps promote adequate drainage of the sinuses and excess mucus in the chest.
Studies Have Shown Massage Helps with Post-Natal Depression for Moms- Mothers with postnatal depression often have problems interacting with their infants. Numerous studies have shown that massage can help such mothers relate better to their babies, reducing post-natal depression (according to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale). Massage measurably decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in both children and their parents allowing blood pressure, heart rate, digestive functioning and hormonal levels to return to their normal, stress free state.
Decreases Colicky Crying – Various studies performed in the last two years done on infant massage have shown that there is a significant reduction in overall crying time with infants and toddlers who receive massage.
Massage Releases Oxytocin – which makes baby happy! – Massage increases dopamine levels, which are believed to play an important role in regulating fuss, aggression, temperature, mood and appetite. Massage time is a great opportunity to play with you baby and to enjoy the light and playful mood it can create.
Promotes Better Sleeping Patterns – Incorporating your babies massage into a specific time of his/her schedule is really important. The massage is calming and relaxing, so spending 10-30 minutes with your baby before a nap will help them into a deeper and longer sleep. Massage manually increases serotonin levels and regulates melatonin secretion rhythms, which helps regulate sleep patterns and gives your baby’s body a head start on falling asleep.
Enhances Motor Skills and Intellectual Development – Studies have shown infant massage improves left/right brain communication which has been suggested to improve intelligence.
If infant or toddler massage is something you’d like to incorporate into your routine with you baby, please consider coming in for a treatment. I will teach you all about the techniques and information you can use with your little one. And of course, BYOB (bring your own baby.) 🙂
Have a great day,
Cailtyn Fry, RMT