Infant massage is highly beneficial for premature babies. In fact, (in my opinion) all babies born prematurely should be given infant massage. Hospitals in some countries has infant massage specialist to start massage as early as the intensive care stage. It is proven that infant massage helps increase weight gain in a premature baby.
How is Infant Massage done in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?
Infant massage in intensive care usually starts with simple stroke or touch, such as placing parent’s hand gently over baby’s chest. As the baby learns and accepts touch, more strokes can be introduced cautiously. During the massage, it is important that the baby does not get over stimulated. Therefore, it is important to be guided by a physiotherapist or healthcare personnel who has the knowledge to recognize signs of stress during the massage.
What other benefit does Infant Massage has on premature babies?
Infant massage can help premature babies by stimulating their senses. Infant massage is a multisensory experience: they smell their caregiver (sense of smell), feel the stroke (sense of touch), listen to the caregiver’s reassuring voice (sense of hearing) and look around to see who is touching them (sense of sight). Babies then have to piece all these information together, helping them to integrate their under-develop sensory systems secondary to prematurity.