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Bonding Benefits of Infant Massage

Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by | 4 views
by Nicole Kruck, Lmt.

My practice specializes in women's reproductive health. In many cases I work with a client for Fertility Enhancement on to Pre & Postnatal massage so it seemed a perfect fit to recently add Infant Massage to my offering for new parents. However, I did not realized that the greatest gift is that I don’t massage the babies I teach the parents how to massage to their own babies.

Working with my clients prenatally I show them how to massage their babies while in the womb to help elevate physical symptoms during pregnancy and delivery. Massage also has a huge effect invetro for the bonding between mother and child along with many other physiological effects. Bonding is one of the most important elements in a child’s development and beginning touch early in life can improve the quality of parenting. Infant massage is a preventive program that promotes loving touch right from the start. It is a perfect way for both parents to feel more close and comfortable with their baby.

Our skin is the largest sensory organ of the body.  Some of the benefits of infant massage:

  • Increases our ability to bond & interact
  • Stimulates physical & emotional growth
  • Creates relaxation & relief
  • Reduces emotional & physical stress
  • Increases food absorption

Dr. Sharon Heller, PhD is a developmental psychologist. In her book “Vital Touch” she writes that Americans have become container crazy. From car seat to stroller, bouncy seat to high chair to crib. We are the only country that deprives our infants of sensory and emotional stimulation because of the reliance of containers. It can create many fussy babies starved for positive 
physical touch. In her book she draws from an inspiring array of cultural and anthropological sources. This book explores the psychological, physiological and sensory benefits of touch. And how we can provide soothing and nurturing environments for our children to thrive in.

Did you know a baby can recognize their mothers voice within 3 days? And although they can not make out the specifics of our faces they are very aware of and drawn to the shapes of our faces.

Newborns see best 8-10 inches away so it is very important to hold babies close. When carriers are over used babies do not develop a normal range of visual input and normal development. Close contact is how infants learn to recognize your scent and touch which helps to calm their nervous system.

Mothers in Japan were studied because they were found to have an extraordinary ability to read their child’s needs before they even seemed to express it. When studied they found that these mothers practiced something called “SKINSHIP”. In this practice the baby is kept up against the body all day in constant physical contact. These babies did not cry, were not fussy, had no digestion or elimination problems and grew at healthy rates. This is attributed to the mothers knowing their infants subtle cues before their babies even had a chance to express them. These mothers didn’t even need dippers! This close contact supports the baby’s ability to self regulate so they do not overwhelm their systems (nervous system, respiratory, cardiac muscoskeletal system). When asked how they knew all this they just replied that they thought ALL Parents knew how to take care of their babies needs as easily as they did.

In Bogota, “Columbia Kangaroo Care” or (K-Care) was developed to help poor babies develop and thrive many times incubators for the preemie babies were not available. Using K-Care they found the babies grew faster, were more healthy, cried less, slept better, stayed much more alert, breathed better and went home faster than the similar babies that did not receive this same type of contact care.

Many times I know the other partner feels left out in the process of caring for their newborns. It can be challenging when you are not the one providing basic needs. Whether it is a feeding issue, an over-protective new mother or many times, just a lack of experience handling a baby, there can be a shyness with close physical contact. Infant massage is a wonderful way to literally get “Hands On” experience. Parents end up doing a really great job with the massage and find they also reap the magnificent benefits of bonding with their child and gain new skills to support the comfort and care of their infant and family.

Raising happy healthy children is what I imagine every parent wants most for their children. Learning Infant Massage and bonding with your child can only lead to a life time of health and happiness as well as a healthy and happy adult. What a good gift to pass on to your children and the world!

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