Infant Massage: Healthy Babies, Happy Families
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The primary role of the massage therapist in infant massage is instructor, teaching parents how to massage their babies. There are many benefits to infant massage, both psychological and physiological. A relationship has been shown between skin to skin touch intelligence. The tactile stimulation a baby receives in its first month of life up through their first year can impact their brain development (Massage Magazine, 2013). “A new parent massaging her infant will reap benefits by taking that quiet time for the two of them together. It helps enhance communication between infant and parent. It will make for a calmer and happier baby. Which will result in a calmer and happier household, and help the parent be more aware of their baby’s physical condition” (Koch 2013).
It can be recognized that infant massage can help enhance the deep intellectual bond between the infant and parent, but it can also be seen to benefit the infant’s physical wellbeing. While massage induces relaxation and relief for common issues in infancy, such as gas, those who have a cold or chest congestion will also benefit from massage. We suggest gentle downward strokes on the face to relieve sinus pressure and light cupping or tapping on the body to break up chest congestion. Massage can help the immune system in general, just as it would on an adult. Babies who are crying, teething or who have hiccups may also find comfort through massage.
For older babies, by incorporating movement into massage, it can help them become more kinesthetically aware. This is beneficial in enhancing coordination in infants because at first, babies act homolaterally, meaning they rarely cross the plane of the body. When you crisscross the body, bringing the right arm to the left shoulder, you stimulate the brain and increase body awareness.