Can I massage my premature baby? According to a 2013 study published in the journal Early Human Development, you absolutely can – but start small.
Because touch is a baby’s first sense to mature, it’s no surprise that experts say touching your baby can help them reduce stress and create a long lasting bond.
While preemie, or premature, babies — those born at least three weeks before a full 40-week pregnancy term — are whisked off to the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) where whirring machinery, constant monitoring and separation anxiety create assed stress, new research found that massage therapy promotes maturing of the newborn’s immature autonomic nervous systems (ANS), in turn, putting them at ease.
According to researchers at the University of Utah, led by Dr. Sandra Smith of the University of Louisville School of Nursing, baby massage consisting of two times daily for four weeks resulted in a host of benefits. This type of healing baby massage focused on five main areas, starting with a compression stroke and transitioning into light movements: thighs to feet, chest to ribcage, shoulders to hands, head from crown to neck, and along the back of the neck to the waist.
Those benefits include: