Baby massage is nourishing on so many levels, with plenty of physical and emotional benefits like assisting sleep, alleviating symptoms of colic and enhancing parent-child relationships. But did you know that a simple daily 15-minute massage can do a lot more – for both your baby and you?
1. Improves resistance to infection
Research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that the “cell-killing” ability (cytotoxicity) of white blood cells (natural killer cells) increases when babies receive massage. When a baby has white blood cells with low cytotoxicity, they are more susceptible to colds, flu and more serious illnesses.
Regular massage also cleanses your baby’s skin and helps remove dead cells. It opens the pores and encourages the elimination of toxins and the secretion of sebum - the natural oil that aids the skin’s elasticity, resilience and resistance to infections.[i]
2. Boosts weight gain
Amazingly, regular massage encourages the increase of growth hormones from the pituitary gland. It also “stimulates the vagus nerve, one branch of which leads to the gastrointestinal tract, where it facilitates the release of food absorption hormones such as glucose and insulin”.[ii] Research found that preemies who were massaged with oil three times a day for 15 minutes gained 47% more weight and left the hospital an average of six days earlier than those who weren’t massaged.
3. Soothes pain away
You know how good it feels when you get a massage? That’s partly thanks to the release of endorphins – the body’s natural pain reliever. Scientific studies show babies reap the same benefits, while also reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. A study[iii] has shown that babies who have massage therapy 20-30 minutes prior to painful treatments like vaccinations, cry less, maintain lower heart rates and are easier to console.
4. Warms things up
Babies aren’t good at regulating their body temperature, and their hands and feet are often cold. Gentle massage will aid their circulation by encouraging muscular relaxation and joint flexibility, helping to warm their hands and feet. Perfect to try out this winter!
5. Reduces parents’ stress
Life with an infant can be stressful, as you adjust to tending to the needs of this tiny being around the clock. Gently massaging your baby can reduce stress and improve your mood - thanks to the wonderful hormone oxytocin, which is released in your body and baby’s, creating a feel-good reaction and bringing you closer. Lovingly massaging your baby creates a wonderful bonding experience for dads too.
Massage practitioners recommend using a plant-based oil for baby massage. It is absorbed easily into the skin and is easily digestible. Plunket advises against using highly perfumed oils, which can irritate baby’s sensitive new skin. Our 100% organic and non-GMO Baby Massage Oil certified by BioGro New Zealand contains lavender oil (which has many calming and sedative effects) and chamomile oil (which has natural soothing effects and is traditionally used to treat insomnia in babies and adults)[iv], and is ideal for your 15 minutes of daily gentle massage with your baby. We recommend researching how to safely massage your baby before you begin or talk to a professional. What better way to bond with your baby!
[i] Peter Walker (2019). Baby Massage: Proven techniques to calm your baby and assist development.
[ii] Peter Walker (2019). Baby Massage: Proven techniques to calm your baby and assist development.
[iii] Tiffany Field (2017). Newborn Massage Therapy. Int J Ped & Neo Heal. 1:2, 54-64
[iv] Emma Harper (2016). Safe essential oils for babies and how to use them.