Friday, September 30, 2005

The Emotional Benefits Of Baby Massage

Baby massage has become a trend for young professional parents hoping to spend some quality time with their little ones. There are a number of benefits to massage, however, so it may be something you want to consider even if you feel that you do not match the cultural mores of the baby massage set.

Babies - like everyone else - have muscle reactions that are associated with their emotions. Every emotional reaction that someone has causes a corresponding muscle reaction. Using massage can help you help your baby deal with baby stresses, such as sleeping woes, weaning, or a fall.

Offering your baby a massage also helps your baby learn to trust you. While your baby will learn to trust you because you provide for her basic needs, massaging can increase the closeness of your relationship. While many new fathers want to be involved with their little ones, they are unsure of themselves – even more so than moms. Using massage is a way to practice handling your baby in a way that is beneficial and relaxing for baby and Dad.

The blood has cortisol in it. The body releases this stress hormone anytime you feel any kind of stress. Repeated and regular massage will help the body to reduce the amount of cortisol the body releases. The body will maintain this reduced level between massages, helping your baby to feel less stressed. Remember that while a baby's life may seem simply and easy to us, it is stressful for baby because he is learning new things everyday.

An additional benefit of baby massage is that you will help to increase your baby's production of endorphins. These hormones are "happy hormones." They have some control over emotional reactions and will help your baby to feel happier. Endorphins also dull pain, which will help your little one. The combination of decreased cortisol and increased endorphins will give baby a general sense of good well-being. It will, of course, make you feel great, too.

It is important that you maintain eye contact with your baby when you are giving a massage. This eye contact will help your little one to trust you and know that you are trying to make him or her feel better.

You also should kiss your baby and talk to her while you are giving the massage. Tell her that you are giving her a massage and that it will help her. Explain that it relaxes her body. While your baby cannot understand your words, she or he will gets stimulation just from your voice.

The emotional benefits to massage are many. While there are physical benefits as well, just the emotional aid baby massage gives your new little bundle makes it worth it to give it a chance. Remember, too, that you should ease yourself into the massage. It makes some moms and dads uncomfortable at first. If you give it a chance, though, you and your baby will work your way into it, and it can become an important part of your lives.

By Julia Mercer

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