Newborn massage, infant massage, massage therapy, baby massage, real bodywork

Massaging a newborn can lead to a better night’s sleep for child and mother

Previous studies have shown that both parents and infants benefit from massage therapy with oil, especially concerning night-time sleep interruptions. A recent study (Field, Gonzalez, Diego, & Mindell, 2016) noticed that almost all of these studies focused on older infants rather than newborn infants. These researchers wanted to not only study newborn children, but their mothers as well.

The study included 59 mothers and their newborns, who were gathered for the study within 24 hours after giving birth. The participants were then assigned to one of three groups: lotion massage, no lotion massage, or no massage. The mothers in the massage groups were trained to give their infants a 15-minute massage, 15 minutes before bedtime, consisting of: five minutes of moderate-pressure stroking of the infant in a prone position, five minutes of moderate-pressure extensions/flexions of the arms and legs while in a supine position, and a repeat of the five-minute stroking. The massage was done slowly and rhythmically, and the lotion group used a lavender scented massage lotion on the infants.

After one month, the study found that mothers who gave massage with lotion spent the most time sleeping and the highest decrease in problems sleeping. In addition, the mothers had less difficulty falling asleep. Infants from the lotion group got the most sleep out of all three groups, had les difficulty falling asleep, and had decreased night wakings. Interestingly, the no lotion group infants had more frequent night wakings and more difficulty falling asleep than the other two groups.

Parenthood is never an easy task, but it appears that massaging a baby with massage oil/lotion close to bed time has significant effects for both mother and child.



Field, T., Gonzalez, G., Diego, M., & Mindell, J. (2016). Mothers massaging their newborns with lotion versus no lotion enhances mothers’ and newborns’ sleep. Infant Behavior and Development, 45, 31-37. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2016.08.004


Two hands applying massage to the back.

Massage found to improve post-stress immune response.

A recent study found that a patient’s stress response can affect his or her response to massage therapy. The stress response is a patient’s cardiovascular response to psychological stress. When this response is strong in a patient, it may lead to more serious conditions, such as hypertension or cardiovascular disease. The study investigated how massage affected a patient’s heart-rate variability (HRV), blood pressure, and salivary markers, depending on their stress response (responder vs. nonresponder).


The experiment was comprised of 30 college students who were split into two groups, the responders and the nonresponders. Each participant received 21 minutes of massage, consisting of three techniques: local pressure temporalis technique, sustained pressure thoracic technique, and sustained pressure sacrum occipitalis technique. Short-term HRV, blood pressure and heart rates, and saliva flow rates were measured both before and after the participant received the massage therapy.


Responders’ Heart rate variability and salivary flow rates improved following the massage therapy, whereas blood pressure and heart rate did not change significantly for either group. The researchers write, “Our results in the present study support the use of massage as a potential preventive strategy to improve the post-stress immune response in susceptible populations.”




Diaz-Rodriguez, L., Fernandez-Perez, A. M., Galiano-Castillo, N., Cantarero-Villanueva, I., Fernandez-Lao, C., Martin-Martin, L. M., & Arroyo-Morales, M. (2016, September). Do Patient Profiles Influence the Effects of Massage? A Controlled Clinical Trial. Biological Research For Nursing. doi:10.1177/1099800416643182