Baby Milestone Monthly Guide and the Role of Baby Massage
Baby massage is a technique that has been used for centuries to soothe babies and promote bonding between caregivers and infants. Recently, research has shown that it also has numerous physical developmental benefits for babies, especially in their growth, infancy and early weeks, motor development, and for babies with delays and Down syndrome.
If you want to help your little one hit their milestones, continue reading for the benefits of baby massage and how you can incorporate other activities like stretching, yoga, tummy time, and exercise to promote physical development.
Growth: Infancy and Early Weeks
Research has provided plenty of evidence for the physical developmental benefits of baby massage. This is especially important in the early weeks and months of a baby's life when they undergo significant growth and development.
Baby massage has been shown to promote healthy growth in infants by increasing their weight gain and improving their sleep patterns. A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that infants who received massage therapy had higher levels of growth hormone and showed greater weight gain than infants who did not receive massage therapy (Field et al., 2018).
Another study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis found that massage therapy improved sleep patterns in infants, reducing nighttime awakenings and increasing total sleep time.
Massage and Motor Development
Motor skills are an essential aspect of a baby's physical development. It refers to the development of milestones, including:
- manipulating objects
Baby massage can aid in the development of motor skills by stimulating the nervous system and increasing blood flow to the muscles, which can help babies to better control their movements.
Studies have also shown that baby yoga, which incorporates massage techniques and gentle stretching exercises, can assist in motor development. A study published in the International Journal of Pediatrics found that infant yoga improved gross motor skills in infants, including sitting, crawling, and standing. Another study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that baby yoga improved postural control and balance in infants.
How Massage Can Aid Babies With Developmental Delays and Down Syndrome
Babies with developmental delays may benefit from massage therapy to aid in their physical development. A study published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine found that massage therapy improved muscle tone and strength in infants with Down syndrome (Okanishi et al., 2020).
Another study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies found that massage therapy improved the range of motion and gross motor function in children with cerebral palsy.
The Kahlmi baby massager has been shown by many parents to help babies with developmental delays and is used widely by therapists and pediatricians.
How You Can Help Your Baby Develop (in Addition to Massage)
Stretching, yoga, tummy time, and exercise are other methods that can be incorporated with baby massage to promote physical development. Tummy time, in particular, is crucial for developing neck strength and helping babies learn to crawl, while exercise can help develop fine motor skills.
When incorporating stretch, yoga, tummy time, and exercise with baby massage, it is essential to take a gentle approach and not force your baby to perform any movements they are not comfortable with. Parents and caregivers should always follow the baby's cues and be careful not to overstimulate them.
Leg and Arm Movements
One way to incorporate stretching into a baby's routine is to start with simple leg and arm movements. Gently move your baby's legs in a bicycle motion to help stretch out their hip and thigh muscles. For arm movements, parents can lift the baby's arms and move them back and forth, helping to stretch their shoulder and upper back muscles.
Simple Yoga Poses
Simple poses such as the "happy baby" pose, where the baby lies on their back and holds onto their toes, can help improve flexibility and balance. The "cobra" pose, where the baby lies on their stomach and pushes up with their arms, can help strengthen their back muscles.
Scheduled Tummy Time
Tummy time can be done by laying your baby on their stomach on a soft blanket or mat. This position can help promote the development of upper body strength, neck control, and coordination. Parents can encourage the baby to lift their head and look around by placing toys in front of them or getting down on the floor and talking to them.
Finally, exercise can be incorporated into your baby's routine through playtime. Parents can provide their babies with age-appropriate toys and activities that promote fine motor skills, such as grasping and reaching for objects. Activity centers that encourage standing and walking practice can also be helpful in promoting gross motor skills.
Water Massage and Spas for Developing Motor Skills
Water massage and spas are also great for developing motor skills in babies. In water, babies can move freely and experience a different kind of resistance than they would on land, which can help them develop their muscles and coordination.
A study published in the Journal of Motor Learning and Development found that aquatic exercise improved motor skills in infants, including their ability to crawl and stand. Similarly, a Journal of Physical Therapy Science study concluded that water exercise improved balance and postural control in infants.
Try Baby Massage For Infant Development
Baby massage has numerous physical developmental benefits for babies and toddlers, including promoting healthy growth, aiding in motor development, and helping with delays and Down syndrome. Parents and caregivers can also incorporate other exercises such as stretching, yoga, tummy time, and exercise to promote physical development. Water massage and spas are other fun and effective ways to promote motor skills in babies.
Along with the physical developmental benefits, baby massage has also been shown to promote mental and emotional development. Massage can help reduce stress in both the baby and the caregiver and promote bonding and communication between them. It can also help babies learn to self-regulate their emotions, which can be beneficial later in life.
It's essential to approach these exercises with a gentle and attentive mindset, following your baby's cues and making sure not to overstimulate them.
While massage and other exercises can be helpful, always remember that every baby develops at their own pace. Some babies may reach milestones earlier or later than others, and this is perfectly normal. Don't feel pressured to push your baby to reach developmental milestones faster than they are ready to.
With these tips in mind, give baby massage and Kahlmi baby massager a try to see how it can benefit your little one!