Soothing massages aren't just for work-weary, stressed-out moms and dads! According to a joint US-Korean study, infant massage may be able to stimulate weight in preterm babies, reduce infants' pain and stress, strengthen the immune system, and improve babies' sleeping patterns, among other benefits.
Sounds like a miracle cure, but not just any ordinary rubdown will do. Researchers looked specifically at the effects of "meridian massage,"—a traditional practice that manually stimulates the body's meridian system—the same network of vital energy channels used in acupuncture.
How much massage does your little munchkin need? In the study, conducted in a community health center in Korea, 169 healthy infant-mom pairs were assigned to a meridian massage group or a "gentle touch" massage group, based on the mothers' preference. After learning how to perform their chosen form of massage, moms gave their babies a 15-minute daily massage over the course of six weeks. At the end of the study, babies in the meridian massage group were, according to survey responses given by moms, much more likely to have reaped health benefits compared to babies who received the less structured "gentle touch" approach.
Sign us up! Your local acupuncturist is a good place to start for learning more about this ancient healing art.