As doulas, we know the benefits of touch in pregnancy and labor. It can soothe aches and pains, it can provide physical support, it can be a reminder to relax and release tension, and it can increase oxytocin. We also know touch has many benefits for baby as well–it promotes bonding, and it can help regulate body temperature, among other things. But let’s take touch a little further and look into the benefits of Infant Massage.
The following was written by Melinda Tanner of A Little Loving Touch
Here are the four biggest benefits of massaging your baby:
Remember all those human body systems you were forced to learn in high school P.E./Health? The circulatory system, the digestive system, etc. Those same body systems inside your baby’s body are stimulated by massage. Circulatory, digestive, immune, nervous, and respiratory are just a few systems that experience growth and stronger development when you massage your baby. Infant massage has also been found to encourage and strengthen baby’s language development, muscular tone, and sensory awareness (e.g. your baby learns that he/she has 5 little “piggies” at the end of his/her hand and foot).
Our babies experience pain. As parents and caregivers, we try to do everything in our power to take that pain away. Some pains are to be expected and may occur on a daily basis (pain from constipation, gas, colic), while other pains happen when the baby is physically maturing (growing pains, teething). While infant massage will not completely take away or prevent a baby’s pain, but massaging your baby can help ease some of that discomfort. In fact, if your baby is having painful gas and/or colicky symptoms, there are massage strokes that parents can use to help alleviate some of the pain from gassiness and colic.
Think back to the last time you received a massage, or even just a foot rub. How relaxed did you feel afterwards? Hopefully, you felt calmer, less tense, and stress-free! Just as you’ve felt relaxed, your baby too may feel relaxed after receiving a massage after bath-time or before naptime. More so than feeling good, massage might help your baby ease into sleep easier and may lead to longer sleep. Also, infant massage has been shown to help babies and parents lower stress levels (yes, even babies get stressed!) and boost anti-stress or relaxing hormones, such as serotonin and oxytocin. By massaging your baby, you can help your baby learn how to relax and cope with stress, lasting throughout their child and adult life.
This is my favorite benefit of infant massage! The warm and loving interaction between the parent and their baby as the parent massages their little one is what first drew me into learning more about infant massage. In addition to all the other ways you bond with your baby, infant massage is another way to spend quality one-on-one time between you and your baby. Not only does this benefit you as the parent, but your baby also develops a more secure, stronger relationship with you! Babies learn a lot from us when they see our faces, hear our voices, and feel our touch. When you look at your baby, talk to your baby in a soothing voice, and gently massage their body, your baby learns that she or he is loved, wanted, and respected.
For more information about infant massage or if you’re interested in taking an infant massage class from Melinda Tanner, go to her Instagram page @alittlelovingtouch or this link: https://www.instagram.com/alittlelovingtouch/ or contact The Fayetteville Doulas to register for a class!