In many cultures, infant massage is a centuries old ritual and research has demonstrated the physiological and psychological benefits. Tiffany Field demonstrated that regular massage improved the growth of premature babies. Babies who were regularly massaged were discharged from hospital up to 6 days earlier than those premature babies who were not treated with massage.
A frequent complaint from parents with newborn children is lack of sleep and inconsistent sleeping patterns of the infant. Ferber (2002) describes how regular massage assists babies to adjust their circadian rhythms and concludes that this adjustment is probably due to nervous system maturation which in turn aids regulation of the infant’s body clock.
Benefits of Infant Massage
- Improve infant settling and sleep quality
- Relieve gastrointestinal discomfort, reflux, colic and constipation
- Improve immune system function
- Maturation of nervous system
- Improved lymphatic circulation and flow
- Assist establishment of close/trusted attachment
- Provides opportunity for fathers to have special time with baby
- Development of awareness of infants non-verbal communication
- Increased confidence in settling and handling baby