One of the questions I get asked most often as an educator of infant massage is “Why in the world would a baby need a massage?” I suppose most people think of babies as leading fairly cushy lives…they seem to get their needs met on a fairly regular basis (because if they don’t, we certainly hear about it!)…they seem to do very little but lay around all day and get fed.
In order to really understand how babies benefit from massage, all you really need to do is think about how us adults benefit from a relaxing and rejuvenating massage therapy session. Think about how you feel when you walk out of your massage therapist’s room…kinda like warm jello right? Well it only makes sense that babies benefit just as much from this sensation as we do. Not to mention all the other amazing health benefits that massage therapy provides.
Some of the main benefits of infant massage are:
- improved sleep (and isn’t that a GREAT one?)
- less crying
- aids in digestion
- longer states of quiet alertness (that’s when you get the coos and smiles)
- less tummy troubles and colic
- more emotional bonding with the parent who is performing the massage
- improved immune function
- stimulates production of oxytocin (the “calming hormone”)
- improved skin and muscle tone
So after reading the above list, who wouldn’t want their baby to benefit from a massage? And as if those weren’t good enough reasons, I’m going to let you in on a little secret…infant massage is also very beneficial to the parent giving the massage. Crazy but true!
The same “calming hormone” that your baby releases (oxytocin) will also be released by your body if you are the one performing the massage (in men too). It’s as simple as when we make others feel good, we feel good too! Interestingly, oxytocin is also known as “the mothering hormone” because it’s released in large quantities during childbirth and breastfeeding in order to ensure that the mother nurtures, bonds and connects with her baby.
Along with the connectedness with your baby, massage also helps parents to tune into their baby and understand and respond to their cues. Parents often report feeling more comfortable and confident in their ability to care for their baby after completing my Blissful Baby infant massage classes…which makes me very happy!
So as you can see, infant massage really is a win-win for both the baby and the parent. Pair infant massage with a relaxing bath (I highly recommend the womb-like Tummy Tub) and not only will your baby get to have “a spa-like experience”, but it’s very likely you’ll get to have more hours of sleep that night!
Leave a comment and tell me what you think of infant massage and please share this with your friends and family who are expecting or have a new baby–I promise they’ll thank you for it one day!