Five not-so-obvious benefits of baby massage
Baby massage is a wonderful thing. I think we’d all agree that receiving a massage is a pretty amazing feeling, and babies think so too. They find it relaxing, and it can be an amazing way to facilitate bonding with your little one.
But did you know that the benefits of baby massage stretch far beyond relaxation and bonding? Here’s how:
1. Massage can help your baby sleep (yes, really!)
Research shows that babies who are massaged regularly have higher levels of melatonin in their bodies – that’s the body’s natural sleep hormone! By building massage into your baby’s routine you can help them enter a deeper, sounder sleep when they go down at night.
Studies also indicate that massage can help a baby adjust their internal circadian rhythms. This means they can better decipher day from night.
2. Massage can provide relief from the symptoms of colic, constipation and refux
Baby massage is a natural way to provide gentle and effective relief from wind, tummy pain and constipation. It does this by stimulating the digestive system and helping your baby relax.
Massaging a baby for colic/wind relief involves stroking their stomach in a clockwise direction to reduce tension. If you attend a baby massage course your instructor will demonstrate what’s known as the ‘colic relief routine’. Consistency is the key with this routine if you want to achieve positive results.
3. Massage can help reduce irritability and crying
We are all familiar with the immediate feeling of receiving a massage, but did you know that touching your baby could actually help them stay more relaxed? Numerous studies have shown that baby massage has the ability to reduce the levels of cortisol–a stress hormone–in the brain. It can also make the brain produce more serotonin, a feel good chemical.
The release of endorphins is yet another benefit of loving touch. As you touch your baby these natural stress fighters are released in the brain helping them to calm and soothe.
4. Massage enhances neurological development
Massaging your baby can stimulate growth in the brain, laying solid foundations for their future learning and development. As you gently touch and speak to your baby you are helping them make vital connections in the brain–connections that will affect their future social, concentration and cognitive skills. The majority of a child’s brain connections are made in the first three years of life, so get massaging!
5. Massage helps develop strong feelings of trust and security
Baby massage is a wonderful way to communicate with your baby before they have words. As you gaze at their face and respond to their babble, you are telling your baby, ‘I am here with you … I am listening to you’. This exchange facilitates a strong attachment and allows your baby to feel completely loved and secure.
Developing this strong attachment is important for your baby’s future development. Research shows that a secure attachment is an indicator for positive self-esteem and better outcomes at school.