What is Infant Massage?
A caring touch is good for everyone, but especially for infants who are new to the world and need the reassurance of someone special being there for them. The practice of Infant Massage involves a combination of relaxing strokes, light kneading, and gentle squeezing. Swedish strokes, reflexology, and yoga make up the core foundation for infant massage.
History of Infant Massage
Infant massage has been developed and practiced by tens of thousands of cultures for centuries past. In the 1970’s, Vimala Schneider McClure (author of Infant Massage, A Handbook for Loving Parents) brought the practice of infant massage to North America after working in an orphanage in India. There she observed a young girl at the orphanage go around and massage all the babies. Despite their suffering from improper nutrition, they were thriving, and Vimala attributed that to the massage they received every day. She brought these methods back home with her and later massaged her own children. She would document her experiences and do much research on the effects of touch on newborns.
The Numerous Benefits of Infant Massage
- Improves general well-being
- Improves overall functioning of the gastrointestinal tract
- Promotes relaxation and helps babies self-regulate calm, which reduces crying
- Helps to normalize muscle tone
- Improves circulation
- Enhances immune system function
- Improves midline orientation
- Helps to improve sensory and body awareness
- Enhances neurological development
- Helps baby/child to sleep deeper and more soundly
- Helps to increase oxygen and nutrient flow to cells. Improves respiration
- Helps to improve pain managament; can relieve discomfort from teething,
- Helps with congestion, gas, and colic
- Enhances release of hormones in the body. The growth hormone can be stimulated which helps weight gain.
- Reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone
- Stimulates all of the physiological systems. Massage sparks the neurons in their brains to grow and branch out to encompass other neurons.
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