You see it everywhere, all over the latest parenting blogs, all over Instagram, TikTok and You Tube. Classes are popping up online and in person. Studies show time and time again that infant massage is not just a passing fad. It has been around for thousands of years, in countries and backgrounds all over the world. Thankfully with the help of social media, now more than ever parents are getting the message. Infant massage has many benefits for an infant’s development, the parents, family, and society as a whole.
Founder of Infant Massage
We can thank the founder, Vimala McClure, for the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) and her book, Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents. Started in 1976 and established world wide in 1992, infant massage has been refined and researched. There is no denying the benefits go beyond any passing trend. Below are just a few benefits that your baby can gain from infant massage.
“Being touched and caressed, being massaged is food for the infant; food as necessary as minerals, vitamins and proteins. “
-Dr. Frederick LeBoyer
How Infant Massage Affects Bonding
Studies show sharing one on one time with parents through baby massage promotes secure attachment. Sharing eye contact, hands on respectful loving touch also increases the parent attachment and care of the infant. Secure attachment is the foundation through which children explore the world while still coming back safely and confidently to their parents.
How does infant massage aide to help soothe and regulate baby?
Gentle touch and massage reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. The relaxing calming strokes increase calming hormones such as oxytocin. Oxytocin helps with relaxation and behavioral states such as concentration, this supports healthy sleeping patterns. Studies show infants who receive massage sleep faster, deeper and stay asleep longer (approximately 1.3 hours more per a day).
Through massage – skin receptors trigger the release of neurotransmitters that affect the brain’s development. This can enhance learning, increases alertness, improve cognitive performance in the moment as well as longterm.
How does infant massage support the digestive system?
By touching and stroking your baby’s skin, the vagus nerve that runs from the brain to the abdomen is stimulated. This stimulation can help aide in better digestion and absorption of nutrients. This can aide in your baby’s weight gain and growth as well.
Infant Massage & Sensory Awareness
As baby is massaged, nerve endings are stimulated and send messages to the brain. This sensory input helps baby feel more “in their body”. This early interaction and embodiment of the infant is the fundamental building blocks of sensory learning. “The general idea is that infants are embodied learners, and use sensorimotor information to gain knowledge about their world.” (Laakso, 2011)
Learn more from experienced Newborn Care Experts as they support your child’s development right in your very own home. Reach out to Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny today to work with qualified experts, such as Nancy.
About The Author
Nancy M. has worked with children for over 25 years, with all ages and stages. She has been a Nursery/Pre-school teacher, an international and domestic travel as well as live-in Nanny, and House Manager. Nancy is an Advanced Newborn Care Expert, Certified Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula, and Certified Infant Massage Instructor. She is Mom to one daughter and volunteer foster Mom at her local animal shelter.