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Infant Massage

Your Baby has arrived! Can you think of a better way to welcome baby to the family than Massage? The practice of baby/infant massage can be found in a number of cultures and enjoyed for many centuries. In the west the practice of massaging babies has a relatively more recent history. Since the 1970’s there have been a number of research studies undertaken to discover the benefits of massage for babies. It’s been confirmed that massage can help baby relax and decrease effects of stress. Massage demonstrates to your newborn that they are protected, safe and cherished. Sleep quality and duration is increased. Massage can support a developing immune and nervous system. Massage is beneficial to relieve the discomfort of colic, teething, and gas. It can help to stimulate circulatory and lymphatic systems. You are teaching your child very early the magnitude of "healthy touch" that can only continue to benefit your child as they grow and develop into adults. As with adults, massage can increase flexibility and coordination in muscles and joints soothe and decrease muscle tension while decreasing the negative effects of stress. Can my baby be stressed? Well yes, as a child develops many physiological changes are occurring. There is a lot of stimulation as baby assimilates into their new environment, so all the more reason to take some quite time with baby.

Dr. Tiffany Fields of The Touch Institute of Miami found through her research that preterm babies developed much more quickly than their cohorts that did not receive massage. Another study saw a decrease in Post-partum depression in mothers that massaged their newborns.

When is it appropriate to begin massaging baby? You can usually bring baby along once you can return to massage yourself. Some parents are anxious to start right away which is just fine. Your therapist should be able to demonstrate how to massage your baby, and then you can take it from there. Oils such as Grape Seed or Sweet Almond are most appropriate you can spend any where from 10 to 20 minutes depending on Baby and your schedule, the massage can be short but never rushed. Try to be mindful that you are communicating with your baby through touch. Most parents/ guardians massage baby during bath time whether it be morning or evening. It’s always important to ask your baby’s permission before beginning any massage. This may sound silly, but this practice enforces the primary goal, which is to provide "healthy touch" to your baby. Always be respectful of the cues your baby might give you they will respond either favourably or not.

When can you not massage baby? Do not massage during acute infections such as fever, sickness, and diarrhoea. If baby has undiagnosed lumps and bumps or any contagious disease. If she/he is suffering with any serious skin complaints, open sores or inflammation. Following surgery, if he/she has epilepsy, heart, or lung problems or diagnosed with joint problems. Massage is not recommended 72 hours after your baby has been immunized. If you have any concerns at all always seek the advice of your Primary Health Practitioner.

As your baby grows and develops, you will have many influences on their future. Massage is an opportunity to be Hands On from day one.


Gregory Saliba, RMT.

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