Bringing your newborn baby home is both exciting and intimidating. Not only does it take time for your new baby to adjust to the outside world, it takes time and effort for you to get to know your newborn. According to Lisa Belderes, a pediatric physical therapist at Carilion Children's, one simple, enjoyable and relaxing way to get to know your new bundle of joy is through the nurturing touch of infant massage. Take a look at Belderes' top five reasons to massage your baby:
1. Helps you bond with baby. Infant massage provides focused one-on-one time with your new baby, which will help create and strengthen your bond.
2. Improves communication between you and baby. By learning how to read your baby’s cues and body language from an early age, you can better meet your baby’s needs. The eye-to-eye and skin-to-skin contact that infant massage provides will help your baby feel secure and will aid in building a loving and trusting relationship between you and your infant.
3. Helps calm and soothe baby. The warm, calming touch of massage will reduce stress and help soothe a fussy baby. This is especially important in the first few weeks of life, which can be taxing for both you and baby as you adjust to your new lives. Studies have shown that massaging your infant can reduce colic and improve blood circulation, which eases constipation and results in better digestion.
4. Improves baby’s sleep. Adding a nightly massage to your baby’s bedtime routine will help baby relax and sleep deeper for longer periods of time.
5. Enhances baby’s neurological development. The social interaction combined with the loving touch that infant massage offers enhances neurological development and helps baby make essential brain connections, resulting in increased attentiveness and intelligence. Infant massage can also release feel-good hormones in you too, further strengthening your bond with baby!
To learn how to massage your baby, look for an infant massage class in your community. Carilion Clinic offers classes through our Pediatric Therapy department that are taught by a licensed physical therapist who is a certified infant massage teacher through the Liddle Kidz Foundation. Call 800-422-8482 to find a class.