February 19, 2015

babymassRemember when we talked about cuddling? The importance of touch extends much farther than our adult lives. Babies not only benefit from touch, they flourish under it.

Now most people can’t let babies go when they are around, constantly wanting to hold them or passing them to someone else to hold, but rarely does the new baby get put down. We know how that great feeling benefits us, but what about baby?

There are many studies that can be looked at for this discussion, but Tiffany Field has done increasing work with pre-mature infants. It is through her research that she has concluded that premmies who received touch massage for 15 minutes, three times a day for a period of 10 days were released from the NICU faster than those who didn’t.

Things of note in her research: the group who got massaged gained almost 50% more weight per day(!), were more alert and active, and scored better on the Brazelton scale (which tested for habitutaion, orientation, motor and range of state behaviours).

Looking at the changes provoked in these pre-mature babies is a great example of what I was talking about last week. It really shows how much change can actually happen when touch is applied. We often don’t see the changes in our lives from an Oxytocin release, but the changes in the life of a baby is very clearly shown with this research. Again, for those of you who didn’t read last week’s blog, Oxytocin is released when we have contact with another person. It can reduce our pain, reduce social anxiety, it also helps reduce both depression and stress (amongst other things).

I think it’s fascinating that touch can do so much for such a little person! Having that bond between caregiver and child is so huge in this world and this paper is just one example that proves it. I believe that it conclusively shows how important nurturing touch is to a person and how it can improve our quality of life. A premmie adding 50% more weight per day is proof of this. A healthy baby means Mom and Dad can take the newborn home sooner, and isn’t that what everyone wants in the end anyway?


Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.