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Gentle infant massage has become very popular—and for good reason. Besides feeling good, infant massage has some great health benefits.

Infant massage supporters, along with some health experts and medical researchers, are actively studying the benefits of massage and the results are very positive, with benefits on everything from digestion to sleep to parental bonding. Babies prone to gas, constipation, or other digestive difficulties can find relief from infant massage as it encourages gas to move more easily through the intestines. Bowel movements may become regulated after massage.

Massage also improves sleep. A quiet massage can help your baby release tension from an environment of constant stimulation. The relief from this stress can result in longer, more restful bedtimes and naptimes. Massage also reduces fussiness. Your soft voice and gentle touch may lessen irritability and crying, and some parents find that a massage helps calm their colicky babies.

A quiet massage can help your baby release tension from an environment of constant stimulation.

Massage even encourages growth. Some studies have shown that massage can improve blood circulation and stimulate areas of the brain that facilitate food absorption, which results in increased weight gain. Infant massage might help premature babies, too. When performed properly, a moderate-pressure massage might promote weight gain and earlier hospital discharge.

Most important, infant massage promotes bonding. Infants communicate through touch, and a massage can help them feel loved, nurtured, and secure. Close, affectionate time with Mom or Dad only strengthens the quality of that parent-baby attachment. Practitioners who teach infant massage report benefits to the parents as well. Parents who learn massage are actually learning ways to comfort and calm their babies. They report a better understanding with their baby’s signals and an increased confidence level. They also report enjoyment and bonding with their infant.

Not all babies like massage, so only do it if it calms your infant. Similarly, if your baby has any health issues, speak to your pediatrician first before trying massage. Your doctor may also be able to recommend a licensed infant massage specialist to help address your baby’s particular needs.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, February 2019

Takeaways

  • Infant massage is a soothing therapy that offers various health benefits.
  • Proponents say that massage can improve digestion and sleep, while reducing fussiness and encouraging growth.
  • Massage also promotes the parent-baby bond.
  • Parents can benefit from infant massage by learning techniques to calm and comfort their babies.

References

  1. The Mayo Clinic. Infant Massage: Understanding this Soothing Therapy.
  2. American Massage Therapy Association. Tender Touch.
  3. American Massage Therapy Association. Massage Therapy May Benefit Newborns.

Comments

  1. I would love to try this but definitely need to learn how!

    Reply
  2. It is nice to know there is some data behind this! Definitely want to take an infant massage class the next time around, since it seems like such a nice way to bond. Great article!

    Reply
  3. When I was a child, If I came to my mom with an achy tummy she would rub my stomach. She says that 9 times out of 10, it was gas and the massaging helped move the gas. I have done the same with my son, and it works! I also got into the habit of massaging my son’s feet while he nursed. Now that he is no longer nursing, he will come to me when he is tired and ask me to rub his feet. It is a great bonding experience for us!

    Reply

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