A study conducted in Turkey has found baby massage is effective in increasing mother-infant attachment. Attachment is important for a baby's psychological development as a baby's sense of basic trust is formed in the first year of life. Basic trust refers to a child having a general sense that the world is predictable and reliable.
The attachment between a mother and her child is unique and when this relationship falters, children can experience future developmental and psychological problems. The outcomes of this study will be of interest to mothers who are keen to enhance attachment and bonding with their baby, especially in situations when the bond between mother and child did not occur instantaneously after birth.
117 infants were involved in the study; with 57 assigned to the experimental group and 60 assigned to a control group. Babies assigned to the experimental group received a massage from their mother each day. All mothers were assessed on the first and last days of the 38-day study using the Maternal Attachment Inventory (MAI), a questionnaire used to provide a practical measure of maternal affectionate attachment.
When the study commenced, no significant differences were noted between questionnaire measurements for the experimental group and the control group. When mothers completed the questionnaires 38 days later, there was a significant difference between the groups.The control group measurement had increased (indicating an increase in attachment), but the group applying massage was significantly higher.
Researchers noted that mothers receive instruction on breast-feeding but often do not receive education on baby massage and that nurses caring for newborns are often not qualified in providing baby massage tuition to parents. The researchers concluded that as baby massage is a simple, cheap and effective option for supporting infant development and strengthening mother-baby attachment, it can be utilised to strengthen the new family's coping strategies and support mothers in their developing parenthood role.
The Infant Massage Information Service provides a free referral service to parents. health services and organisations looking for a Certified Infant Massage Instructor or Paediatric Massage Consultant, trained in providing massage tuition to parents.
Related articles & links:
Baby Massage Soaring in Demand as 60,000 Parents Sign Up to Program
Baby Massage Booming in Popularity - And With Good Reason
Baby Massage Tip Sheet - QV
Your Guild to Baby Massage - Bupa The Blue Room
How Do I Become a Baby Massage Therapist?