The Benefits of Baby Massage
Baby massage has been practiced across cultures for centuries–and for good reason. With the right techniques and strokes, there’s a long list of physical, emotional and neurological benefits. Relaxation is often the first that comes to mind, but baby massage can help with so much more and it can be started the day your baby is born.
Kahlmi founder Elina Furman has made it her mission to help parents work this healthy practice into their routine. The most important thing to remember before you get started? “Consistency is key,” she says. “Think of baby massage like vitamins. You can skip a day here or there, but when you do it regularly it really amplifies the benefits.” That’s also why Furman developed a baby massager enhancement tool. “It provides a sensory experience for babies like no other, and reminds parents to make massage a daily habit,” she says.
Here’s the full list of baby massage benefits to help you get started:
Builds Stronger Bonds
Baby massage can help promote feelings of love and security for both babies and parents. According to a 2018 study on The Effects of Massage by Mothers on Mother-Infant Attachment, daily massage can promote and maintain emotional attachment between the mother and her infant. Creating a connection is key for mothers as much as fathers, says Furman. “Baby massage teaches parents they have power in their hands to shape and guide the bonding experience,” she says. “It helps them feel connected at a time when maybe they may feel overwhelmed.”
Digestion issues can lead to an increase in crying, a loss of sleep, and irregular appetite in babies. But according to Furman, “There’s a marked decrease in constipation and gas when the massage is performed regularly for 5 to 10 minutes per day.” Similar results can come from practicing baby massage for teething. “For teething pain, make small circles from the ear to the chin with both fingers for about 2-3 minutes every day,” says Furman.
Just as in adults, massage also helps regulate respiratory and circulatory systems in babies. It can assist in maintaining healthy blood circulation, promoting lung function, and supporting overall physiological balance. “Parents may not realize they can use massage when their child is congested, but it can help clear phlegm and boost immunity over time,” says Furman.
Soothes for Sleep
The rhythmic movements of massage can relax a baby’s muscles, promote calm, and set the scene for better sleep. “If you massage your baby before bed, they’re less likely to have separation anxiety,” says Furman. “By really focusing on your child in an intentional way you’re creating an enhanced bond that will help them sleep better.”
Parents can also stimulate their baby’s sensory system through touch. This helps your baby become more aware of their body, which improves body coordination and enhances sensory perception allowing them to better grasp the world around them.
Massage can be beneficial during a baby’s playtime routine too. While your child is reaching for toys or practicing tummy time, gentle strokes can keep them engaged longer. “Babies who are massaged regularly have been shown to show greater attention and focus on a follow up task,” says Furman.
If you’re interested in incorporating baby massage into your routine, remember to consult your pediatrician for personalized guidelines so you can safely support your child’s health needs.