The Benefits Of Baby Massage
A baby massage is much more than just a ‘nice’ thing to do with your baby. Studies over the last years have shown the psychological and physical benefits for mother and baby.
The baby massage sounds like a miracle cure, because it improves post-massage sleep for up to 2h, improves body circulation, strengthens the immune system, supports neuronal development and helps to manage pain. How? Baby massage increases oxygen and nutrient flow which stimulates circulation, encouraging blood supply to the muscles and tissue. This also improves breathing patterns and lung health. It is very important to know that massage stimulates endorphins in a baby's body. Endorphins are the body's own pain killers and can help again tummy aches, colics and constipation. All these benefits together strengthen the immune system (1) by increasing parasympathetic activity. It is also possible to make skin condition better when using the right lotion and oil during massage.
Baby massage has some psychological benefits for the baby which are indispensable. It is known that the ‘bonding hormone‘ oxytocin is also released through touch. Massaging your baby will not only release oxytocin in your body but also in his. The released oxytocin in his body encourages it to interact more with you, which then again releases oxytocin in your body and will make you want to interact with your baby even more. This is also called a positive feedback loop (2). Massage decreases cortisol levels and helps a baby relax and release tensions (3). With consistent massage you make sure that social, emotional and cognitive development are supported.
Doula and mother connecting with newborn.
The baby massage does not only have positive effects on your baby but also on you as a parent. As mentioned above it also releases oxytocin in your body, which makes you want to interact even more with your baby and creates a wonderful bonding opportunity. Especially for mothers, postpartum oxytocin is crucial to ‘prevent’ baby blues (4) or postpartum depression and increase confidence in handling a newborn.
Did you know?
The baby massage can also involve siblings, which can make it easier for them to adjust to the new family member. They can massage their doll or teddy bear while being present and interacting with you as well.
1. Pediatric Massage Therapy Research: A Narrative Review
2. Are There Epigenetic Oxytocin-Mediated Effects on the Mother and Infant during Physiological Childbirth?
3. Influence of baby massage stimulation on the improvement of nutritional status, IGF-1, and cortisol level on undernourished infant
4. Kangaroo care and postpartum depression: The role of oxytocin