As a parent of a little baby, you might be looking for ways to bond with your baby and provide the best care possible for your baby’s overall development. Have you ever thought that baby massage might be one of those ways you could show how much you love and care for your little baby?
You may find it interesting to know that research has shown there are many benefits of massage for babies. There are studies that suggest the loving touch you give your baby has equal importance to sleeping and eating. (1) Studies also found that premature babies who received regular massage and movements of their arms and legs had increased weight gain by 21-47% which allowed them to leave the hospital earlier than a control group. (2)
Isn’t it amazing to know that giving your baby a loving touch through massage is one way you can make a positive and important difference in your baby’s overall development?!
Benefits of Baby Massage
There are numerous benefits your baby could experience from baby massage but this article will focus on some of the main ones that parents seem to appreciate during the first months of raising their new little baby. It’s also important to mention that baby massage can benefit parents as well!
Bonding – A common benefit for your baby that might come to mind is bonding…a chance to connect with your baby to help develop intimacy. Massaging your baby gives you that all-important one-on-one time with your baby which promotes eye contact and extended times for loving touch. If you think about it, your baby may spend significant time in car seats and carriers, baby swings, or strollers. While these can be helpful or even essential, such as a car seat for your baby’s safety, it is also important to provide opportunities for your baby to feel the close physical touch of you, as their parent. This touch can be experienced during a massage that can help develop a nurturing, bonding, and loving relationship with a parent, and, also, grandparent or caregiver. Often dads are looking for ways to relate to their new little baby and baby massage is a wonderfully positive way to encourage that interaction and relationship…and can also provide a break for mom! Parents who participate in baby massage classes report they feel more confident and competent in raising their baby, too.
Weight Gain – Another benefit of baby massage is the promotion of healthy weight gain by regulating the digestive system. Other related benefits can also be increased circulation, relief from the discomfort of teething, and enhancement of the immune system function to help keep your baby healthy.
Relaxation & Self-Regulation – Relaxation and self-regulation can be additional benefits of baby massage that promote better sleep patterns. The touch pressure on the skin, joints, and muscles from massage may allow your baby to calm down, perhaps from over-stimulation or crying, and help prepare your baby for deeper, more sound, and restful sleep. A suggestion to help prepare your baby for sleep is to establish a consistent routine for nap or nighttime sleep. This routine might include, not only massage, but reading books, singing songs, playing soft music, slow rocking, or a warm bath. If your baby develops good and consistent sleep patterns, this not only helps your baby but gives mommy and daddy some downtime, too!
Relief of Gas, Colic, Constipation – Another helpful benefit of baby massage is that it relieves tummy problems such as gas, colic, or constipation. If this is an issue for your baby, there are specific massage strokes that can be repeated until your baby experiences some relief.
Free Classes – Onsite or via Zoom
You might be wondering where you can learn baby massage that specifically focuses on you and your baby! The Help Me Grow Program through the Fayette County Health Department offers both onsite classes at the Health Department or classes in your home with a Help Me Grow Visitor. During the current COVID Pandemic, the classes have also been adapted so you can learn baby massage on a ZOOM call! These classes are free with no cost to the parent and are taught by a certified infant massage instructor. Generally, the recommended ages for babies to participate in the class are as early as 4-6 weeks until the baby starts to crawl. As mentioned earlier, baby massage provides a way for dads to feel comfortable relating to their baby so dads are welcome and encouraged to participate in the classes.
What Parents Are Saying About Baby Massage
Here are some personal testimonies of moms who have participated in past Baby Massage Classes offered through Fayette County Help Me Grow.
“The thing I liked the most about the Baby Massage Class was…”
– how it soothed my baby
– the relaxing atmosphere and also learning benefits I didn’t even know that helps my baby
– learning strokes to help with gas and constipation
– the back strokes
– the whole class—all mothers should participate!
If you would like to learn more about baby massage and do something that will benefit both you and your baby, you are encouraged to sign up for a Baby Massage Class. It is definitely worth your time and your baby will love it!
Cindy Hayes, CIMI, is a certified infant massage instructor and retired pediatric occupational therapist. She works with the Help Me Grow program at Fayette County Public Health to provide baby massage classes for parents in the community. Classes are available onsite or through Zoom conferencing. For more information or to sign up for a free class, call Fayette County Help Me Grow at 740-335-5111 or visit the Fayette County Help Me Grow Facebook page and search for the Baby Massage Video. You do not need to be enrolled in Help Me Grow to participate – all are welcome!
(1) Dr. Greene.com Blog “Touch is as Important to Infant Health as Eating and Sleeping”, 2022
(2) Field, T. “Tactile and Kinesthetic Stimulation Effects on Pre-Term Neonates”, Pediatrics, 1986; 77: 654-658