Benefits of Baby Massage
There are many research studies on the benefits of baby massage and there are so many benefits and angles in which you can look at them that I have decided to break them down into categories.
I have decided to highlight this area first as I think this is one of the reasons many families initially look into baby massage.
As a new parent it is incredibly distressing and challenging when your new little bundle of joy is in pain and is upset. It is very common and something i see a lot and have personally experienced.
Massaging the abdomen using strokes created using the knowledge of anatomy and physiology can help to relieve the symptoms of colic, help to relieve wind and constipation. This is because you are helping to do the job of the bowel by increasing bowel movement and helping to remove waste from the body.
Facial strokes and routines are used to provide relief from teething discomfort and also to help soothe your little one. They are also used to help relieve congestion and colds by massaging the nose, cheek and eye area. This partnered with the chest routine is fantastic to help your little one breathe easy and to help move any mucus.
Other areas in which baby massage can help with are; Growing pains, muscular tension, softening of the skin and sensitivity to touch.
One of my favourite benefits in the interaction category is the promotion of bonding and secure attachment. Bonding is a process rather than an event and it is never too late to bond with your baby.
Baby massage can encompass the bonding process and is a fantastic tool for creating and maintaining loving bonds.
Touch is the first sense to be developed in utero and is the only sense that we cannot survive without. During massage you rhymically stroke your baby, forging the bonds of trust and security which are vital to future development.
Eye contact, talking/singing, exchange of smells and positive body language is all used during baby massage to further assist the development of your bond.
Other benefits in the interaction category are that it provides you with one-to-one quality time with your baby away from any potential distractions and makes your baby feel loved and respected. The use of verbal and non-verbal communication helps you to further understand your babies cues and develops pre-language communication skills.
When you massage your baby you stimulate vital systems helping their little bodies to function more efficiently. An example of this is the lymphatic system which when simplified helps to fight infection and protect from disease.
Studies have shown that massage can help increase lymphatic flow in the body helping the body to process and expel toxins and waste product and therefore boosting the immune system.
Other internal systems that are stimulated during massage are the circulatory, digestive, respiratory and nervous systems.
Baby massage also helps with the process of myelination which is the development of the of the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve fibers of the body. Myelination enables messages to be transmitted more effectively and at a greater speed helping with overall brain communication.
An important hormone for babies and parents which is stimulated by massage is 'Oxytocin', this is known as the love hormone. When it is released, Oxytocin helps to develop nurturing and altruistic feelings in the body. It is the opposite to the stress hormone, adrenaline and its role is to bring about a state of calm and relaxation in both the parent and baby.
Baby massage has also been shown to reduce tension and irritability and improve the ability to calm oneself.