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Baby Massage: A Tender Touch

Rubbing your baby the right way can help her sleep soundly, grow faster, and get smarter.
happy mother and baby

Can't keep your hands off your newborn? We know. Those tiny toes and chubby thighs are absolutely impossible to resist. Fortunately, there's no need to. Your infant loves to be caressed. "The skin has more than 5 million sensory receptors," says Elaine Fogel Schneider, Ph.D., author of Massaging Your Baby: The Joy of TouchTime.

Lots of good things happen when you give a baby a massage. A 2009 Cochrane Review of studies found that infants who have their skin stroked regularly cry and fuss less than those who don't, perhaps because the skin-to-skin contact lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They also sleep better, thanks to the touch-induced release of the hormone melatonin. Massage has even been shown to bolster a little one's immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development, and to promote healthy weight gain. Although giving a massage is largely instinctual, we'll guide you through some basic techniques to make sure that you and your child get the most from this special bonding opportunity.