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Massage Is Good for Infants – And Here’s Why

05 Jan 2018

Yes, massage therapy is good for EVERYONE! And that’s especially true of babies and young children. Often when we talk about the benefits of massage therapy we’re speaking of adults, but it’s important not to overlook how good it can be for babies.

Research has shown that it is extremely beneficial for pre-term babies, and because of that, some hospitals are including massage therapy as part of their neonatal ICU or PICU units. But therapeutic massage can be beneficial for all infants. Research has shown that some things a massage can do for an infant include:

  • Improvement in motor development as well as responsiveness
  • Faster weight gain (this is especially helpful for low-birth-weight babies and premature infants
  • Lower cortisol levels; cortisol is the hormone that is indicative of stress, and babies who have elevated stress have a number of health issues
  • Better sleep – falling asleep easier, staying asleep longer.
  • Increase in daytime activity and alertness
  • Reduction of gas or colic when abdominal massage is performed

Massage therapists may be the ones to perform therapeutic bodywork on babies in the hospital, but they are also teaching parents to do the same. Parents are encouraged to continue simple massage at home with their babies, not only for the health benefits to the child but also for the bonding it can foster between the child and parents. Babies whose parents massage them tend to have more interaction with the rest of the family, including increased eye contact, vocalizing, smiling, etc.

And for the parents who are giving the massage to their child, there are also benefits. Stress reduction has been observed when parents give their babies massage. And it doesn’t have to take long – 15-20 minutes is the maximum recommended since babies have a very short attention span and massage that lasts longer than that can actually be counterproductive.

If you have an infant (or are expecting one in the near future), why not start with experiencing the benefits of massage therapy for yourself? You can schedule an appointment with one of the supervised student therapists in our Clinic and enjoy the relaxation it brings. Let your therapist know you’re interested in learning some basic techniques for infant massage. As a part of the curriculum at our Minneapolis massage school, we offer courses relative to care for babies and young children, including our recently-added Birth Doula & Bodywork elective class.  

 

 

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