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Massage Therapy for Infant Development

Copyright (c) 2013 Liddle Kidz Foundation Infant and Children’s Pediatric Massage

Throughout my career as a massage therapist I have stumbled upon so many great resources on how massage is beneficial. When I was pregnant with my child I began to find so many wonderful resources on how massage benefits infant development and infant growth. It was easy for me to begin massaging my child after he was born and I have continued this ritual with him for many years. I have seen the benefits such as increased growth, accelerated development and better sleep. For many parents the act of massage on their child can be overwhelming to say the least. We are taught to handle our children carefully and in many ways reduce touch. However the research proves that the benefits far outweigh any reservations that a parent may have.

In a series of studies, pre-term infants in the neonatal intensive care unit were given 15-minute massages three times a day for 10 days while they were still in an incubator” (Field, 1998, p. 781). When the group of infants were moved to the nursery the massaged infants gained 47% more weight and were hospitalizes 6 days less than the infants who hadn’t been massaged. Tests related to orientation and motor scales in the massaged infants was also better! When the study was repeated years later (Field 2003), massaged babies gained 53% more weight than the control group (the group which did not receive massage).

At the one year mark, the group found that the massaged infants had a weight advantage as well as placing 12-15 points higher on the mental and motor tests of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development than the infants who hadn’t been massaged. Even better, these results have been replicated by at least two other groups of researchers (Goldstein-Ferber, 1997; Jinon, 1996).

Another study was done with full-term healthy 1-3 month old infants. The infants were given fifteen minutes of either massage or rocking for twelve days over a six week period.. What the group found was that the massage group gained more weight, displayed better face to face interactions, improved on emotionality, sociability and soothability, displayed less stress hormones and increased serotonin levels (Field, 1998).

Infants gain so much from being massage at an early age as these studies have shown. Even more interesting are the benefits that continued massage has in reducing stress and increasing serotonin levels into adolescence.. As with any new healthcare program, always check with your doctor before startingArticle Search, and follow their guidance. A certified infant massage teacher can help you get started and have an understanding of the safe use of massage therapy for infants.

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