Adults aren’t the only people who enjoy a relaxing massage. It turns out that your infant also benefits from it in various ways. A mother’s touch throughout the day maintains the parental bond and the infant’s feeling of well-being. But a dedicated massage therapy session for your infant can help it deal with stress and irregular sleep patterns. Consider these ways in which massage might help your child.
The Benefits of a Professional Massage for Your Infant
The Mayo Clinic notes that there are several health benefits from massage for your baby including:
▪ encourages the production of stress-reducing hormones
▪ allows your baby to relax more fully
▪ reduces anxiety and crying
▪ helps your baby sleep more soundly
According to Carrington College, some research points to a link between massage therapy and the promotion of growth in premature infants. The autonomic nervous system, or ANS, of a preemie is likely underdeveloped, and massage therapy can help reduce the stress that their nerves are unable to manage properly.
A Relaxing Atmosphere Enhances the Massage
You may not recognize how chaotic your household is. Phones ringing, dogs barking, older kids screaming and doors being slammed closed are all stimuli for your infant relaxing in their crib. Infant massage starts with a calm space, warm and quiet. The massage practitioner may have soft music playing and a dimly lit room. They will have removed anything that might stimulate the infant and prevent it from relaxing.
Watching the Baby’s Responses
Unlike their adult clients, infants can’t tell the massage practitioner when a particular technique feels good or bad with their words. While doing the massage, the baby’s responses are closely monitored to find out which techniques get the best reaction. Each infant reacts differently to a massage session so the practitioner must be on their toes to discover what works best for your child.
Massage stimulates the infant’s nervous system and the creation of various hormones, states Parents Magazine. The production of cortisol is suppressed. This is a hormone the body produces in response to stress. Another hormone, serotonin, is increased in the infant’s body. This hormone creates a feeling of calm and slows down the infant’s heart rate and breathing. This allows the baby to relax more completely.
Massage and the Fussy Infant
Even the fussy baby that won’t stop crying benefits from massage. You may have tried several things to calm the baby down, but once those stress hormones start flowing, it’s hard to reverse them. Anything you do seems to stimulate the infant even more.
The key to using massage to relax the infant is slow, rhythmic motion over their body. The therapist may work with the child’s arms, legs, stomach, back and neck areas using these slow and deliberate motions. Patience is required as the calming hormones kick in and override the stress hormones. Eventually they will and the child will relax.
Watch the therapist closely and you will pick up some tips to try if your child gets fussy before going down for a nap or to sleep at night. You may discover that a simple massaging motion on one part of the body, such as the tummy, may be enough to calm them down so they can sleep.
Infants and Medical Issues
Your child may still benefit from massage therapy if they have an illness. Discuss the impact of massage on your baby with your doctor first. The calming effect of massage may be just what they need if an illness prevents them from sleeping.
Massage therapy is one way to help your infant relax and deal with stress. They may sleep better and be less fussy. A mother/baby massage outing may be a great way to rejuvenate both of you after a strenuous week.
Audrey Clark is a skilled freelance blogger covering a range of topics from careers and finance to travel and leisure, along with everything in-between. When not writing, she’s always on the lookout for her next adventure. Connect with Audrey on Twitter and Google+.
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