Why Infant Massage Could Change Your Life

Before you buy another piece of baby gear in the hopes of soothing your fussy newborn, consider this: You may already have the solution to some of baby’s crying, tummy troubles, and sleep challenges in the palms of your hands. Literally: we’re talking about infant massage.

The benefits of infant massage are many. Here’s what some of the research on infant massage has found.

Benefits of Infant Massage

Massage Means Improved Sleep: Babies and toddlers whose parents massaged them prior to bedtime fell asleep faster and demonstrated more alertness when awake, indicating better sleep.

Massage Could Mean Weight Gain for Preemies: Babies born prematurely gain more weight when they receive regular, gentle touch. (Parents of preemies, speak to your doctor before beginning an infant massage routine as it may overstimulate babies born at younger than 32 weeks gestation).

Massaged Babies Have Lower Levels of Stress Hormones: Infant massage has been found to lower babies’ cortisol levels and contribute to a less fussy baby.

Moms Who Massage Show Improved Moods: Studies have shown moms who engage in infant massage may suffer less from postpartum depression.

Infant Massage Leads to Better Bonding: A short, 15-minute daily massage is enough to increase mother-infant attachment, this study and others have shown.

Before you get started, watch this quick tutorial on how to massage your baby.

How to Massage Your Newborn Baby

And here are couple of things to keep in mind before you begin:

  • Babies benefit from routine so try to give your baby a short massage at the same time every day. A good time is before the evening feeding, to stimulate appetite and also to settle baby down for the night.
  • Start with a light touch and pay attention to your baby’s reaction. Since your little one can’t tell you how she’s finding the massage, it’s important to notice her nonverbal cues for confirmation that your level of pressure is comfortable and soothing for her. Any wincing, grimacing, or tensing up is a sign that you should ease up.