Benefits of Infant Massage
Benefits for Parents/Caregivers
Improves ability to read infant cues
Increases confidence in parenting
Reduces blood pressure, reduces stress and improves overall health
Promotes bonding and attachment
Encourages preverbal communication between caregiver and infant
Creates a regular time of intimacy between parent and child
Increases parents' self esteem
Gives parents a special way to interact with children who may be hospitalized.
Provides a positive way for fathers to interact with their children.
Helps the bonding process with adoptive parents.
Benefits for Babies
Stimulates ALL the systems of the body: Nervous, Circulatory, Respiratory, Elimination, & Immune
Helps tone digestive tract and alleviate gas
Releases hormones for food absorption
Releases endorphins, natural pain killers, to ease emotional distress
Helps baby release accumulated stress and self regulate calm
Reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
Hormones stimulated promote bonding
Enhances neurological development
Improves body awareness
Helps normalize muscle tone
Improves sleep and awake patterns
Improves skin condition
Improved Sleep Patterns
- Infants experience improved sleep immediately after being massaged.
Argal KN, Gupta A, Pushkarna R, Bhargava SK, Faridi MMA, Prabhu MK, Effects of massage & use of oil on growth, blood flow & sleep pattern in infants. India J Med Res. 2000:112;212-217.
- Infants who were massaged before bedtime adjusted to a more favorable rest-activity cycle by the age of 8 weeks and produced more melatonin, a sleep regulator, during the night by the age of 12 weeks.
Ferber SG, Laudon M, Kuint J, Weller A, Zisapel N. Massage therapy and sleep-wake rhythms in the neonate. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 2002;23(6):410-415.
- Infants and toddlers with sleep onset problems were given daily massages by their parents for 15 minutes prior to bedtime for one month. The massaged babies showed fewer sleep delay behaviors and had a shorter latency to sleep onset by the end of the study. During the day, babies were more awake, alert and active.
Field, T., & Hernandez-Reif, M., (2001). Sleep problems in infants decrease following massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care, 168, 95-104
- Cortisol levels, a stress indicator, was significantly lower after infant massage.
White-Traut RC, Pate CM, Modulating infant state in premature infants. J Pediatr Nurs. 1987;2(2):96-101.
- Infants born of HIV+ mothers who were massaged three times daily had significantly more optimal scores on the Brazelton neonatal behavioral assessment, including habituation, motor, range of state, autonomic stability, excitability, and stress behaviors.
Scafidi F, Field T, Massage therapy improves behavior in neonates born to HIV-positive mothers, J Pediatr Psychol. 1996;21(6):889-897.
Safe for Medically Fragile Infants
- A parent-trained touch massage protocol for medically fragile infants in a level III neonatal intensive care unit was both feasible and safe. Babies remained physiologically stable and had no change in agitation/pain scores.
Livingston K, Beider S, Kant AJ, et al. Touch and Massage for Medically Fragile Infants. 2007
- A greater increase in temperature was noted for pre-term infants receiving massage therapy even though incubator portholes remained open during the massage.
Diego, M. A., Field, T. & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2008). Temperature increases in preterm infants during massage therapy. Infant Behavior & Development, 31, 149-52
Increased Weight Gain for Premature Infants
- Premature infants that were massaged regularly had higher daily weight gain, increased motor activity, and better Brazelton neonatal behavioral assessment scores. They had a better conversion of calories to weight gain.
Field TM, Schanberg SM, Scafidi F, et al. Tactile/kinesthetic stimulation effects on preterm neonates. Pediatrics. 1986;77(5):654-658.
Phillips RB, Moses HA. Skin hunger effects on preterm neonates. Infant Toddler Intervention. 1996;6(1):39-46.