Research supporting baby massage

R. Hansen and G Ulrey (1988) Motorically Impaired Infants:Impact of a Massage Procedure of Caregiver-Infant Interactions. Journal of Mutihandicapped Person, Volume 1

This study took place with mother’s with infants with motor problems. Parents regularly massaged their babies and displayed more positive interaction. Parents expectations and behaviour changed towards their children, positively changing and enhancing parent child interaction.

Tiffany Field,Scanfidi F, Abrams S and Richardson S (1996) Massage therapy for infants of depressed mothers Infant Behaviour and Development 19 p109-114

Adolescent mothers with post natal depression were asked to massage their babies for fifteen minutes a day for two days a week for 6 weeks. The results showed that the infants’ sleep increased after massage and they had increased vocalisation, decreased restlessness and there was more mother/baby interaction. The mothers all felt their babies had benefited from baby massage and the infants were more settled after two weeks having longer quiet alert states, and exhibiting less crying. They also did the experiment with mothers rocking their babies for the same period instead of massage which illustrated that massage had greater benefits for inducing sleep and prolonging quiet alert periods than simple rocking.

Field T, Hernandez Reif M, Sleep problems in infants decrease following massage therapy, Early Child development 1988

This study concluded that massage helps babies and toddlers settle down to sleep. After one month of fifteen minutes of massage a day, children fell asleep faster. The sleep problem rate in the group fell from 100% to 33%. Research supporting weight gain through positive touch. Many studies have shown that infants who are massaged put on weight. Massage increases the activity of the vagus nerve and increased vagal activity during massage leads to an increase in the production of sugar absorption hormones such as insulin which could account for the weight gain of infants who are massaged. (Tiffany Field. Interview 1998).

Imperial College London, Fetal and Neonatal Stress Research Group Dr Vivanne Glover 2008 Report: Massage and mother baby interaction with depressed mothers, carried out by Fetal and Neonatal Stress Research Group.

Mothers with postnatal depression are known to have potentially difficult relationships with their babies. The aim of this study was to find out whether attending baby massage classes would be beneficial to them. A group who attended five massage classes was compared with a similar group who attended a support group. At the end of the test period the massage group had significantly less depression and very significantly better interaction with their babies, than the control group. This is the first time that a method has been found for improving the relationship between a depressed mother and her baby. Further research needs to be conducted in this area to show the benefits of baby massage to post natally depressed women.

“Massage Intervention for promoting mental and physical health in infants under six months (Review)” University of Warwick 2006.

New research by a team at the University of Warwick says that massage may help infants aged under six months sleep better, cry less and be less stressed. The team of researchers from Warwick Medical School and the Institute of Education at the University of Warwick was led by Angela Underdown. They looked at nine studies of massage of young children covering a total of 598 infants aged under six months. They found the various studies showed a range of significant results including indications that infants who were massaged cried less, slept better, and had lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol compared to infants who did not receive massage. One of the studies examined also claimed that massage could affect the release of the hormone melatonin, “which is important in aiding infants’ sleeping patterns,” (Underdown 2006).

Taken from Warwick University News & Event website.