In my opinion infant massage is one of the most magical and intuitive forms of “touch therapy” in the world. What parent hasn’t dawdled away a morning stroking the head of a sleeping newborn or gently squeezed that pudgy little fist? And I dare you to keep your hands off of those squirmy little feet when they are dangling out of the baby carrier. Infant massage is something that pretty much all parents do, instinctively and without needing to be told to do it. But just in case you were wondering, there has actually been a lot of research on the subject and the findings are incredible!
Much research has been done on the effect of massage on preterm infants and the results have shown that preterm infants who receive daily massage (in comparison to those who don’t get daily massage) have a markedly higher rate of weight gain, are discharged from the hospital an average of five days earlier, and exhibit better cognitive and motor development eight months later. In addition studies of infants of depressed mothers who received massage (in comparison to rocking) showed more organized sleep/wake behaviors, less fussiness, improved sociability and soothability, improved interaction behaviors and lower cortisol and norepinephrine and increased serotonin (indicating less stress).
So what does that have to do with you – the parent of your run-of-the-mill-amazing baby? Speaking from personal experience infant massage relaxes not only the infant, but the person giving the massage too. Whether your massage lasts five, ten, fifteen or twenty minutes it is an incredible bonding experience with your baby and a special few minutes when no distractions are allowed to come between the two of you. Your baby literally lives for your touch and long before he/she can understand what “I love you to a bazillion pieces you little stink face” means – your hands can get your point across. Bottom line? Infant massage is fun to do and babies love it – and who are you to argue if your baby sleeps a little better and fusses a little less because of it?
So, as if you really needed an excuse to kneed those chubby little baby thighs, over the next few weeks I will be offering up a four part series on Infant Massage techniques with a little baby yoga thrown in for your budding little Yogi.
Part I: Baby steps – Infant Massage Basics and an Infant Foot Massage Routine.
Part II: Moving on up – Infant Massage for the Legs and Hips.
Part III: Up in Arms -Infant Massage for the Chest and Arms.
Part IV: Goodbye Bubbles -Infant Massage for the Tummy.
Don’t forget to check back over the next month to get a complete infant massage routine! Maybe someday your kiddo will return the favor …