Infant massage is a bonding activity between parents and their children. In the most basic terms, infant or pediatric massage refers to the process of stroking the muscles of an infant using a variety of specialized massage techniques.
Vocalization, eye-to-eye contact, and other positive behavioral reinforcements are also important components of the massage.
Ancient Art Of Infant Massage
Mothers have been practicing the art of infant massage for centuries.
Based on this historical fact, it is very clear that all babies should be massaged, touched and loved to promote their social-emotional-cognitive and physical development.
As an early intervention strategy and therapeutic tool, infant massage is becoming a specialty therapy in the United States.
Infant massage is being embraced by a wide variety of professionals who are incorporating it into their practices to help families cope with children with special needs as well as healthy full term newborns.
Techniques are simple and effective and are most likely performed by parents and primary caregivers who have been taught by certified infant massage instructors.
The approach is empowering and improves the parent-infant attachment process. There is a growing body of research that supports the therapeutic benefits.
Infant massage is a crucial and routine part of infant care around the world and has the ability to create great benefits for both parents and the newborn.
About – Benefits
- Relief of discomfort
- Massage releases both oxytocin and endorphins and therefore can assist in relieving discomfort from teething, congestion, colic and emotional stress.
- Speeds myelination of the brain and nervous system
- Skin stimulation speeds the process of myelination of the brain and nervous system therefore improving brain-body communication and enhancing neural-cell firing.
- Relaxation and enhancement of neurological development
- Massage provides both stimulation and relaxation for an infant, both being components of optimum learning conditions.
It is estimated that stress plays a part in 60-90% of all illnesses. Massage can help infants learn to effectively cope with stress, so it may follow suit that infant massage may play a role in illness prevention.
Most infants sleep for longer periods following massage and experience longer periods of deep sleep. Understandably, this is a favourite benefit for many parents and is often the reason they seek an baby massage course.
Massage stimulates a nerve in the brain, known as the vagus nerve. When this nerve is stimulated, peristalsis increases. Peristalsis are wave like, rhythmic contractions of the stomach and intestines that move food material along the digestive tract.
Massage stimulates a nerve in the brain, known as the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve sensory fibres also supply the lungs.
A study conducted at the Touch Research Institute in Miami Florida, showed that following one month of 20 minute massages each night, asthmatic children could breath better
- Teaches infants that touch is a form of expression.
- Helps tone muscles and aids growth
- Enhances the bonding process
- Increases infant’s body awareness
IMIS instructors encourage parents to name body parts during massage. This simple practice teaches infants games, words and speech.
In addition to this, body awareness can assist newborns who are still adapting to an environment without the boundaries of the womb.
Strengthens The Immune System
Massage causes a significant increase is Natural Killer Cell numbers. Natural Killer cells are a group of white blood cells that kill many types of tumour cells. This is thought to have particularly positive implications for children suffering from HIV and cancer.
- Teaches children from birth that they are in charge of their own body and that it is ok for them to say no to people touching them
- IMIS teaches parents to interpret an infant’s body language in regards to massage
- Increases oxygen and nutrient flow to the cells
- Increases circulation
- Improves sensory awareness
- Helps encourage midline orientation assisting with coordination and balance
- Helps parents to feel more confident in their new role
- Massage provides quality time with a working parent
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Information courtesy of infantmassage