Yesterday we looked at the definition of Slow Beauty and the Benefits of Abhyanga (self-massage).  Today, I would like to extend the topic and discuss the many benefits massage can have on your baby.

Although baby massage is relatively new to this country, for cultures such as those in India, massage is an important part of a baby’s daily routine and the family’s way of life.  Massaging your baby has a profound positive effect on bonding between parent and child and has an unbelievable impact on subsequent development of your child.

Some of the key benefits of daily infant massage are as follows:

  1. Enhancing the circulatory and respiratory system of your baby by bringing nourishing blood to all the cells of the body.
  2. Daily abhyanga/massage improves digestion, healthy muscle tone, aiding growth and development of your infant.
  3. The massage helps to enhance relaxation enabling your baby to establish better sleep patterns.
  4. Regular abhyanga relieves muscular tension held from the fetal position.
  5. Spending time and communicating with your newborn during this precious time in their lives is particularly fulfilling and reaps long term benefits and rewards for both emotional and physical health.
  6. Helps develop baby’s first language-touch.
  7. Teaches babies how to be aware of their body’s tension and how to release it, an invaluable gift as they grow into adulthood.
  8. Releases the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin (also known as the bonding hormone) which lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and pain and promotes relaxation.  It also has been shown to work both ways.  As your baby’s blood pressure lowers so does yours.
  9. Relieves symptoms of colic, gas, and constipation.
  10. Massaging your baby can stimulate their major systems, for instance, massage stimulates their nervous system. Each nerve has a protective covering around it, called the myelin sheath, which speeds the transmission of impulses from the brain to the rest of the body. The process of coating the nerves (myelination) continues even after birth and natural sensory stimulation, such as massage, speeds this process. In addition, the stimulation provided by your loving touch is a natural kind that is relevant to the baby’s world, more so than artificially created toys or videos.

I recommend using a light oil for your baby such as olive or almond or, in the winter, a little sesame oil mixed with almond oil or jojoba oil will provide warmth and comfort.  A petroleum-free baby oil or oil based lotion will work as well.  Make sure you don’t miss the baby’s scalp.  Natural oils are brilliant for alleviating cradle cap, eczema and psoriasis.

Recent research has illustrated the particular benefits for premature infants; children with asthma, diabetes and certain skin disorders. Mothers with post-natal depression have achieved closer relationships with their babies through baby massage. Cross-cultural studies show that babies who are held, massaged, carried, rocked and breastfed, grow into adults that are less aggressive and violent and are more compassionate and cooperative.

Below are a few videos courtesy of Parenting.com to get you started enjoying the many benefits of baby massage today.