What is Infant Massage?
Infant Massage is an ancient tradition of providing nurturing touch as a way of communicating and bonding with baby. Massage can help foster mutual trust and understanding between caregiver and child.
Infant massage is composed of techniques which are utilized with babies from approximately three weeks of age to three years old and may be adapted onward. Yes, absolutely, parents and caregivers should use nurturing touch with their child as soon as they are born. Specialized massage techniques are used with babies born prematurely. However, generally speaking, for healthy children we would use the three week starting period.
Infant massage for healthy babies is typically administered by parents and caregivers who have been trained by certified infant massage teachers in private and group sessions. Infant massage teachers teach parents and caregivers to use gentle massage techniques, understand their baby's individual cues and methods of communication to enhance many life changing benefits. Clinical research has shown that massaging baby can aid in their healthy growth and development, may soothe common discomforts, promote restful sleep for the infant (and in turn the caregivers), and can increase healthy attachment and bonding.
Evidence has also shown babies who receive massage have increased weight gain, improved immune function and decreased stress hormones. When parents provide massage, their babies may experience optimal neurological function and improved digestion. The benefits achieved with the use of infant massage therapy are needed to encourage appropriate emotional, cognitive and physical development.
What is Pediatric Massage?
It is somewhat easier to think that a child who has been hospitalized or diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition may benefit from the use of massage therapy. However, healthy children have just as many indications for receiving pediatric massage therapy. Children need nurturing touch to grow and reach their full potential. With massage, we aid in their restful sleep, stress reduction and comfort growing pains. In studies performed by massage therapy researchers, reported benefits for typically developing children also include improved concentration, increased focus and decreased aggression. Some researchers even report that children who have received massage therapy for a regular period of time may show increased IQ.
Research has indicated that massage therapy can ease both physical symptoms, as well as emotional discomforts associated with pediatric medical conditions. Immediately after receiving massage, children with mild to moderate juvenile rheumatoid arthritis notice decreased anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. For young patients with Autism, their aversion to touch decreases with massage, while their ability to focus increases. Pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis report feeling less anxious and their ability to breathe and pulmonary functions improved.