The skin is the largest sensory organ and is the earliest to develop in uterus. Even after birth, skin sensitivity is seen in newborns’ reflexes such as the rooting reflex which is triggered when the cheek is touched gently by the finger or nipple during nursing. Another good example is sucking, according to Blass and Ciaramitaro sucking is one of the many coping strategies babies may use to calm themselves. As the brain matures and along with other senses, touch is used to actively explore objects and people. Further, touches provide intimate skin-to-skin contact between baby and others. Parents and professional caregivers usually engage in gentle rocking, stroking, and cuddling, all of which have soothing effects. The last but not least, baby-massage also possesses soothing effect and further creates the perfect environment for bonding of love to take place.
Baby massage is a wonderful, intimate and loving form of non-verbal communication between you and your baby through positive touch. It offers a way of playing, care-giving and sharing for a wonderful journey of life ahead and also can be a beautiful way to give you a greater sense of confidence as a parent. Baby massage possesses many benefits for your baby and for yourself as well. Those benefits are:
- Enhancing the immune system of your baby.
- Helping your baby to feel more relaxed that will result in releasing the “feel good” hormones, such as oxytocin and prolactin.
- Increasing your baby’s concentration and make him/her to sleep better.
- Assisting your baby to adjust his/her breathing so he/she will have a more stable heart and breathing rate.
- Delivering him/her to an oraganised state that will help him/her to provide the best conditions for his brain to develop as normally as possible.
- Improving the weight gain of your baby.
- Allowing the baby to be more alert, so he/she can interact with you and others.
- Promoting healthier bones.
- For the parents, massaging your baby can promote the nurturing instincts and strengthen the self-confidence.
The nine benefits above are only small part of baby-massage’s huge benefits. Overall, according Field et al. massage your baby will result in gaining more weight, showing improved sociability and soothability, and engaging more in mutual interactions with their parents.
The safest touch of baby massage is done with respect to your baby’s ‘needs’ and ‘signs’. For example, signs that show that your baby may need some ‘time out’ or a break, might include yawning, sneezing or hiccups. Give your baby plenty of time, lots of pauses with a resting still hand, and if the signs continue, stop and try again another time. Touch is one of many things that all infants need to develop optimally.