1. May help baby relax and sleep
Short Answer: Just like it is hard for you to sleep when stressed, the same goes for baby. Massage calms the body and releases hormones that help the body relax and fall asleep more easily.
More details: The first thing I talk about in my infant massage classes is how babies can be stressed. The normal reaction from parents is "How can babies be stressed? What do they have to worry about?" Imagine you have spent your entire existence in a warm, dark place where you are never hungry, you always are in contact or touching something, and you can always hear your mother's voice, heartbeat, and more. Then suddenly you are in a place all alone with bright lights, it's cold, you suddenly feel like you need to eat, and no way to communicate. Sounds stressful to me! Massage can help reassure baby and relieve some of those stresses, which helps them sleep.
2. May help relieve colic
Short answer: While many doctors still don't know what causes colic, massage strokes that include gentle strokes and pressure on the abdomen can ease some colicy symptoms and give baby some relief.
More details: Colic is a horrible experience both for babies and parents. Babies are in agony and parents feel helpless because their babies are in agony, plus they are usually frazzled from lack of sleep and quiet. Colic is defined as, "A spasm in any hollow or tubular organ" which doesn't help much. The best guess of professionals is that colic is linked to gas or issues with the intestinal system. Many products on the market designed to help colic involve something putting pressure on the baby's belly and abdomen. Fortunately massage of the belly and abdomen also provides a similar type of therapy without expensive products and can help relieve gas and gassy symptoms and may help relieve some of that uncomfortable pain so that everyone is able to relax.
3. Stimulates brain development and coordination
Short answer: Massage can make baby aware of their limbs and different body parts, encouraging the brain to pay attention to what the body can do and how it can move, so things like reaching, grabbing, and ultimately crawling and walking may come quicker and easier.
More details: Babies are constantly developing every day, and their brain is no exception. As we know, the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. When babies first begin moving, they move their arms and legs, but rarely cross over the center line of their bodies (don't reach left with their right hand). This is because each part of the brain is still independently developing and the two halves haven't yet learned to work together. Massage can help stimulate the nerves and muscles which then help the brain understand and recognize what is possible which helps that development move more quickly and easily.
4. Provides bonding and communication opportunities
Short answer: In our busy and stressful lives, giving baby a massage is an easy opportunity to shut out the world and focus just on baby, allowing for you both to get to know and understand each other, building trust and letting baby know they are loved and cared for.
More details: Putting focus on baby while giving them a massage can have great benefits for both parents and the baby. The baby gets the physical benefits of a massage, plus they are learning that they can trust and are loved by the parents giving them massage because these people are taking care of them and making them feel good. Parents can benefit from knowing that they are doing something good and healthy for their baby, plus it gives uninterrupted time for them to learn about how baby communicates - what certain facial expressions, movements, or sounds mean so it helps with communication in that baby knows to do something and parents learn what baby means or wants, which helps decrease stress for both parties.