From http://massage.kelowna-bc.ca/ – Infant and baby massage, although just recently becoming popular in the Canada, has been in practice throughout the world for hundreds of years. It has been proven that baby massage has immediate, as well as long-lasting, benefits for both baby and parent. Whether it be a baby suffering from colic, a baby with special needs with delays in development, or a newborn that is having trouble breastfeeding, massage can be used to stimulate and seemingly cure many ailments in an infant.
It has been long known that touch is extremely important to a baby. Rene Spitz, a psychiatrist in the 1940’s, studied children who had been separated from their mother, receiving very little touch, human interaction, or nurturing. Her studies showed that babies who were previously “normal” developmentally, failed to thrive when they were not touched, did not develop as they should and many times died. Not being able to see, smell and touch are calming for an infant, aiding in their development and sense of security. Touch decreases an infant’s levels of cortisol, which in turn reduces his or her stress level. Aside from relaxation and emotional benefits, infant and baby massage has been proven to have physical benefits as well. Massaging a baby can improve their gastrointestinal and immune function, as well as circulation and the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Brain development is also affected, with neurons branching out and linking to other neurons.
Parents, also, can benefit greatly from infant massage. Providing an opportunity to bond with their baby helps parents’ self-esteem, increasing their confidence in being able to meet their baby’s needs. It allows parents to be able to better read their baby’s cues, both physical (hungry, tired) and emotional (wanting to be held, afraid). A great daily activity for fathers, massage allows them an opportunity to provide daily care and bond with their baby. This quiet time of caressing their baby also allows a parent to relax and ease daily stress.
Any amount of time spent massaging your baby, be it ten minutes or an hour, is time well spent. Make infant massage part of your daily routine and reap the rewards of this calming practice. There are many videos available that show the various techniques of infant massage. For hands-on learning, take a class through your local hospital.