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Even Infants Can Benefit from Massage Therapy

11 Oct 2017

If you are a regular reader of our blog posts, you know we often talk about the benefits of therapeutic massage. Whether you’re dealing with tight muscles, anxiety, tension, stress, or painful conditions, often relief can be achieved with the help of a massage therapist. And because of those ‘feel good’ hormones a massage can release, it can also lead to a feeling of relaxation and well-being.

Generally we’re talking about adults when we discuss the things massage is good for. But the truth is that massage therapy is beneficial for anyone, of any age, including babies.

Infants in particular can benefit greatly from massage therapy, and in fact some neonatal ICU units (NICU) are incorporating infant massage for pre-term babies. But whether the baby is a few days or a few months old, here are some of the benefits of infant massage you may not know about.

Infant Massage Benefits

  • Sleep support. Anyone who has ever spent an amount of time with a newborn knows that the phrase ‘sleep like a baby’ is an oxymoron, because most infants don’t sleep for long periods of time. Sleep is important for infant development, especially premature infants. Just like adults, babies receiving massage therapy tend to fall asleep more quickly and sleep for longer periods of time. Their sleep seems to be more restorative because they also appear more alert and active when they are awake.
  • Enhanced motor development. Preliminary studies indicate that infants who receive therapeutic massage show an improvement in motor development as well as responsiveness to stimuli. It is particularly beneficial for preemies and those with developmental issues.
  • Pain relief. Bodywork professionals recognize the potential for therapeutic massage to reduce pain, and a study using reflexology on babies about to be vaccinated showed a pain assessment score of nearly half that of the control group who received no reflexology treatment.
  • Stress and inflammation reduction. Adults aren’t the only ones susceptible to stress – even babies experience it. Research studies on babies showed a reduction in production of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for a number of negative physical side effects, including inflammation.

There are two aspects of infant massage – that performed by trained professionals, and massage administered to the baby by its parents or family members. Some hospital units even offer some basic instruction in the technique for new parents.

At our Minneapolis massage school we train our students to provide therapeutic bodywork for clients of all ages – from infants to the elderly. Although the techniques may be adapted slightly for different age groups, there are certain benefits that can be enjoyed by all.  

 

 

 

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