Doctors from Singapore General Hospital's (SGH) Department of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine talk about baby massages. Besides the many health benefits for the baby, it is a good way for parents to create a deeper bond with their baby.
Why massage your baby? Touch is the child's first language
“It's through our hands that we speak to the child. That we communicate. Touch is the child's first language. Understanding comes long after feeling." - Frederick Leboyer, obstetrician and author of Loving Hands, 1976
Baby massage has been practised for centuries in Africa, South America and Asia. Its popularity has exploded in the last few years. The caring touch of massage has many benefits for both infants and parents or caregivers.
Touch is essential for the growing infant . A number of studies support infant massage and its benefits on both term and pre-term infants. Most of the early research in massage therapy was carried out on pre-term babies. "Studies h ave shown that babies who were massaged gain more weight daily, have more motor activity and stay for fewer days in the hospital," said doctors from the De partment of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, Singapore General Hospital, a member of the SingHealth group.
Infant massage overcomes problems related to early deprivation of touch
While we are now able to sustain the lives of infants born as early as 24 to 25 weeks of gestation, we also increase their time in hospital even as we try to give the infant a secure and comfortable environment within the incubator.
Pre-term infants often have to undergo invasive procedures. Some may end up associating any form of touch with an act of aggression. One of the simplest and most powerful techniques to overcome this is baby massage.