Massage Your BabyHumans are known by anthropologists as a "close contact" species. This means that human newborns have a physiological need for "skin to skin" contact. Without this contact babies will not grow properly. What better way to insure your baby gets his "daily dose" of skin-to-skin contact than through the pleasurable, invigorating and fun activity of baby/infant massage?
In the animal kingdom it is well known that mothers frequently lick their offspring. When newborn pups are deprived of their mothers licking the level of growth hormone in the pups is substantially reduced, and those pups actually stop growing. Furthermore, even when growth hormone is injected into these pups they still do not grow. Only when the licking of the pups by the mother is resumed do the pups begin to grow again.
Help Your Baby to Thrive!A similar phenomenon has been shown to occur in human infants. Touch, especially massage, increases the level of growth hormone and cellular enzymes that promote the growth of the child. Premature infants placed in a special "grower nursery" achieved 47% more weight gain when given extra touch in addition to the standard care.
Babies deprived of touch can develop a condition known as psychosocial dwarfism. These babies will not respond even to the injection of growth hormone unless they are also touched. When they receive the touch stimulation they need, only then does the body respond to the growth hormone, and the babies grow.
Research has shown that touch can also stimulate neurological development by promoting the growth of myelin, the substance that surrounds nerve cells. The adequate presence of myelin increases the speed and efficiency of the function of the nerve cells. The digestive system also seems to benefit from massage, by increasing the secretion of digestive hormones. This may be another source of improved growth in the baby, as well as a reduction in digestive disorders such as colic. Infant massage also seems to reduce day-time fussiness as well as improve night-time sleep habits.
As any of us who has ever had a massage from a loved one knows, it is one of life's most pleasurable experiences. It is a gift we can give to our babies which will not only promote his/her health and well-being but is also be a great way to just enjoy your baby!