Touch and Massage: Providing Infants Love and Care
Touch is a basic human instinct each of us is born with. Reaching out and touching another person is a universal action that conveys love and care. Communicating with hands comes second nature to speaking with voice. Through certain gestures we can convey affirmative and healing messages such as blowing kisses, clapping our hands to show appreciation, giving someone a thumbs up, and so on. However, there is so much more information to grasp about our hands.
“Touch” is the primary means of learning about the world throughout infancy. Research shows that touch is critical in a baby's growth and development. Previous studies showed that premature infants who regularly received a series of 15-minute massage gained 47% more weight and became more socially responsive than non-massaged premature infants. They were discharged from the hospital an average of six days earlier than other premature babies. Supporters of touch therapy claim that it can treat and cure a wide variety of illnesses, including heart failure, diabetes. This form of alternative therapy can also provide stress relief. According to one theory, people who are ill have disturbed or imbalanced “energy fields.” By moving trained hands over the patient's body, a touch therapist can detect misalignments and re-pattern energy fields to create “energy balance.”
Aside from touch therapy, other forms of massage have been recognized by scientists as beneficial to infants and those close to them. There are innumerable medical facts that support the importance of touch and massage. Touch and massage therapy have a lot in common because they have a lot to do with motion of the hands over various parts of the infant's or baby's body. The technique involves a lot of touching, stroking, and massaging of body parts. Massage therapy has been around for many centuries. Today, it is known mostly as a means to attain relaxation and comfort. Many years ago it was used as a cure for many ailments. Most people looked to massage for comfort rather than take medicine alone.
Doctors incorporated many forms of manipulation of the body to help comfort the body through disease and pain. For an infant or baby, massage therapy has a lot to do with skin-to-skin contact. This could be something as simple as holding a baby to a naked chest, holding an infant's or baby's hand when the baby is in a cubicle. Some massage therapists even offer special massage therapy for infants or babies in critical or unstable condition. The most wonderful thing about massage therapy is that it not only benefits the infant or baby, it also benefits the parents or main caregivers. The baby sleeps better, grows faster, while the parents will get an extra few hours sleep each night. Not only will the baby or infant sleep better, massage therapy could eliminate colic, tummy aches, headaches, and even a stressful day at school or even fever. Seeing the benefits of massage therapy, it is no wonder that there are so many more parents who are open to the idea of using massage therapy for their infant or baby today, as compared to a decade ago.
While the benefits on infant health brought by mother's massage are already firmly established, new research shows that a father's touch is equally essential to a baby's health and well-being. Health benefits for infants include fewer sleep problems, as well as strengthening and regulating the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems. Fathers also gain from the experience in performing infant massage. It is true that massage and touch can provide numerous benefits including stress relief to a lot of people, but reaching out and touching another person, not just infants are universal actions that offer love and care.
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