6 Surprising Benefits of Baby Massage

If you've ever received a massage, you could probably guess a few benefits of baby massage. Relaxation, better sleep, and soothing your baby may come to mind. But did you know that massage goes much beyond that? Because massage stimulates basically every system in the body, there are tons of benefits to massaging your little one. Here are 6 surprising benefits (in no particular order) of baby massage. For a more complete list of benefits, click here.

6 Surprising Benefits of Baby Massage

1. Neurological Development

When a baby is born, his brain is not fully developed. Experiences create connections (nerve synapses) between nerve cells to transmit and store information. Stimulation of a child's senses (especially sight, sound, and touch) is especially important for a developing brain. When you massage your baby, you look into his eyes (sight), talk to him (sound), and of course, massage his little body (touch).

2. Improved Latch/Sucking

Stimulating your baby's lips can increase the effectiveness of her latch. In our face routine we do a stroke called "Happy Smiles." This is done by using light outward strokes on the lips.

If Baby is congested, it can make sucking on the breast or bottle difficult. Massage and light pressure to certain points on the sinuses can help relieve the pressure of congestion and make sucking easier.

3. Relief from Constipation

Massage is great at getting things moving. The large intestine moves food from the lower right side of baby's belly, up and across, and then back down to the lower left side of the belly. Light clockwise strokes on the tummy can increase elimination and improve motility.

4. Improved Communication

Babies don't come out talking. But, they do have cues to tell you what they want/need. Some obvious cues are crying or cooing. However, babies have many more cues to show either engagement ("I enjoy this") or disengagement ("I don't enjoy this"). As you continue to massage your baby, you will begin to learn his specific cues. As you respond to his cues, it will enforce the communication, encouraging him to continue using them. The more you can recognize, the more you and baby can communicate with one another.

5. Healthy Weight Gain

Weight gain is an important part of development for babies. Early research on massage and babies showed that massage significantly improved weight gain for babies. Preterm infants were given massage. These babies gained over 20% more weight than those in the control group and were discharged from the hospital 5 days sooner.

6. Caregiver Confidence

As a parent, it's easy to feel like you don't know what you are doing or that you don't know what your baby needs or wants. The more in tune you are with your baby, the more you will feel like you know what she needs. Massage not only helps you bond and tune into your baby's cues, it also gives you a new tool to help her with common baby discomforts, giving you more confidence in your role as her caregiver.

 

Remember that massage is an excellent adjunct to your child's healthcare. It should be tailored specifically to your child's needs, and never forced on a child. Caution should be taken with massage for children with certain healthcare needs. If you have any concerns, it is best to discuss them with a licensed professional.

To find out more about the benefits of baby massage, to register for a class, or contact Nicole (a licensed massage therapist, certified infant massage teacher, and certified pediatric massage therapist), visit her website at www.dottodotmassage.com.

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