Massaging your baby is a wonderful thing to do. It is so simple in terms of technique, yet so powerful in what it conveys - your love, your understanding, and your attention.
Baby massage helps to resolve many issues in the parent-child communication - postpartum depression for Mom, baby's incessant crying, and the parents' frustration that comes with it when nothing seems to make it better. Through massaging their babies, parents gain confidence in handling these problems. They learn to watch and interpret their baby's reaction to touch, which sheds the light on the baby's natural rhythms and on what he dislikes, making it easier for the parents to understand him and sometimes to tolerate their own inability to soothe him. When parents enjoy watching and recognizing their child's reactions, and respond to them, the baby responds in return, and a positive relationship develops.
Apart from a few essentials, there is no right or wrong way to massage your baby. Infant massage is about being together and being in touch with each other physically and emotionally.
A research study was conducted in Australia in 1992 with fathers and their babies to assess the impact of baby massage on the father-child relationship. A group of first-time fathers were shown how to massage their four-week-old babies, and asked to continue for the duration of the study. A control group was of fathers who did not massage their babies was also monitored. It was found that at 12 weeks old babies who were massaged greeted their fathers with more eye contact, smiling, vocalizing and touch than those in the control group. They showed more orientating responses to their fathers and less avoidance behaviour. The fathers showed greater day-to-day involvement with their infants. Baby massage allows fathers and babies to enjoy the skin-to-skin contact that mothers often experience through breastfeeding, but fathers often miss out on. By massaging their babies fathers come to understand their child's rhythms and responses, and become more confident about handling them.