Infant Massage

The following information on the benefits of infant massage has been provided with permission by the International Association of Infant Massage for family’s living with Infant Gastric Reflux.

The four main benefits were originally defined by IAIM founder, Vimala McClure.



  • Digestive system
  • Circulatory system
  • Lymphatic system
  • Immune system
  • Nervous system
  • Brain development
  • Muscular development and tone
  • Growth
  • Hormonal system
  • Skin stimulation
  • Body awareness


  • Excess mucus
  • Teething
  • Sinus congestion
  • Wind/Gas/Colic
  • Constipation
  • Digestive pains (Including Gastric Reflux GORD)
  • Muscular tension
  • Disorganisation
  • Sensitivity to touch


  • Increased deep sleep
  • Regulation of behavioural states
  • Lowering high muscular tones
  • Increased flexibility
  • Reduction of stress levels
  • Higher tolerance to touch
  • Higher levels of oxytocin
  • Enjoyable positive “time out”
  • Less hyper – activity
  • Less hyper – sensitivity
  • Increased environmental coping mechanisms


  • Better understanding of baby
  • Reading individual cues
  • Secure attachment
  • Promotion of bonding
  • Verbal/non verbal communication
  • One to one quality time
  • Undivided attention
  • Pre-language communication skills
  • Nurturing touch
  • Eye contact, talking, singing, smelling
  • Respect
  • Influence of calming hormones



  • Gives parents permission to touch (that is not sexual or “sissy or abusive.)
  • Helps parents to fall in love with their baby.
  • Quality time. Time to connect.
  • Develops intimate communication.
  • Teaches nurturing parenting skills.
  • Gives a greater awareness of baby’s physical, mental and emotional needs.
  • Increases parents’ confidence, competence and self esteem.
  • Develops bonding/attachment.
  • Allows for fathers involvement. Dads are wanting to do the nurturing today. Baby will tell his story during massage and Dad’s can play an important role by simply “listening”.
  • Massage can involve the whole family unit. The second sibling can also learning to massage and to bond with the new baby which can help prevent any jealousy between siblings.
  • Postnatal depression (also known as Postnatal distress disorder). We can encourage mother to stay in bed for three days with baby. Mother needs some support. She may be very depressed, and possibly father may be resentful of mother’s depression. There needs to be an understanding these to emotions. If this is not faced, it will affect the baby. If the father learns to massage baby, this produces the hormone prolactin in the father, which can help him become a more nurturing parent.
  • In many cases, massage has helped to improve the parent relationship. This allows more time together to nurture each other. There are huge adjustments to make when a baby arrives on the scene. We are not educated for marriage, let alone parenting!
  • If father is made to be part of massage from the beginning, this aids and supports the family unit.
  • Can prevent disintegration of the family unit.
  • Massage brings about a subtle awareness of baby’s cues and cries.
    Communication skills and bonding deepen through the art of massage, because of the eye to eye contact, the nurturing touch, the gentleness of the voice, and through learning to listen to each other.
    What is the result? – Fun, pleasure, relaxation, peace and tranquility.
    Spiritual connection. Through learning to tune in on different levels, baby will have a sense of being loved, nurtured and wanted and parent will want to continue to offer their love to their vulnerable little angel.


  • Premature baby under 1000 gms – can use holding techniques
  • Fever about 101° F or 38.3° C
  • Heart disease – greater demands on heart
  • Umbilicus unhealed
  • Systemic infections – chicken pox
  • Skin infections
  • Cancer or undiagnosed lumps
  • Fracture, bleeding, burns or other acute injury
  • Kidney disease
  • Adaptations for special needs babies
  • Jaundice
  • Recent surgery – can use holding techniques
  • Most important of all is, “WHEN BABY SAYS NO”.

IAIM – Promoting better beginnings. For further information and training please contact: Peggy Dawson P.O. Box 33997 Takapuna, Auckland. Copyright belongs to International Association of Infant Massage.

Related material

  • An intricate dance – The loving relationship between IAIM
  • May I touch you? By Emma Miller, North Carolina, U.S.A.
  • Article Health visitor run baby massage classes: investigating the effects.3
    Community Practitioner volume 76 April 2003 Number 4

For copies please contact GRSNNZ or IAIM

Collected for GRSNNZ by Jennifer Howard, National Coordinator for Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust January 2006. Used with permission.

This page may be printed for the personal use of families, as long as the copyright and source (i.e. Crying Over Spilt Milk’s URL) is also printed. It may not be copied to other websites or publications without permission from IAIM.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Dance Of The Spirit's photo.

    ;-) does this make you feel any better?

  • Hoping that a few of you can help...any other mums with toddlers with ongoing GERD/Reflux? My son is 16 months old and unfortunately is back on losec 3x a day due to chronic wheezing after eating & ulcers (due to acid) on the throat. Did your toddler just eventually grow out of it? Or was it a physical problem like a hiatus hernia? Any tips on managing it? He's a pretty happy little kid despite everything apart from a pretty low immunity at the moment and choking night episodes that have been going on for 9ish months , they basically present like mini seizures (which they are not) or an extreme night terror where he screams, burps, swallows, passes winds and arches his back for a good 10 minutes they scare the crap out of us. We are on waiting lists to see public/private gastric specialist as reflux specialist can't really do anything more than medicate. He has zero allergies and we still purée his main meals to help with digestion. Just hoping someone has been in similar situation because I feel like I'm going around in circles and feel quite alone in all of this.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ feeling frustrated.

    Has anyone else had problems getting the membership form to go through recently and giving up? Please let me know if you have and I'll switch it back to the old version.

  • Our Newsletter is due out tomorrow so please subscribe today or tomorrow morning to find out more. If there are any problems subscribing please let me know. You will be redirected to a welcome page if successful.

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Plunket New Zealand's event. Just sharing this in case any of you have something you want to chat to Plunket about. Check out their event for further information.

  • Newsletter is due out soon so now is a great time to join #gastricreflux #gor #gord #infant #baby #gastricrefluxsupportnetworknz #cryingoverspiltmilk #child #family #reflux

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Patient's photo.

    Do you have those days where not much gets done?

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  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared a post.

  • Can anyone recommend or know of where I get tongue/lip tie released with LASER in the south island??

  • If you want to join the Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ or update your details, or have had trouble signing up before, I have just updated our membership form so that the process should be easier.

  • Never posted before but followed this site for a year now. What a roller coaster is has been dealing with a child with reflux. I've learned so much about it yet still feel like I have no answers. For any mommas out there looking for advice from those who have been through it: 1. Get earplugs and a video monitor so you can put them down, walk away, and not listen to the screaming for the millionth hour 2. Push your health care providers! You know what is normal for your baby and what is not! 3. Try everything! Use every tip, trick, medication, bottle, breast, diet, homeopathic remedy, physiotherapy, chiropractor. That way....when nothing is working, you know you've done your best. (In my case....nothing worked. But I got through knowing Id tried it all) 4. When nothing works, tell yourself every day: Your baby loves you Your baby needs you You are the best mother in the world You know what is best for you baby Your baby will one day grow out of this BECAUSE IT'S THE TRUTH!!!! 5. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. And tell the others to $@"& off 😉😘

  • There is a new visitor post about a four month old. Can anyone help out? (Please remember no medical advice or medication recommendations.)

  • I have a 4mo who I suspect has had reflux flare up over the last 10 days. He's waking every 1-2 hours now which is the biggest hassle about it. He's not as bad as a lot of babies but during and after BFing he will come off and cry in pain. I used to think it was wind struggling to come up but the pain would continue even after a good burp. He can fall asleep on me but when I go to lie him down in bed he often wakes straight away, arching his back in pain and kicking his legs around. I could go on but I'm going to docs in the morning. If anyone has any advice for me please share. Also wondering if I should try any homeopathic remedies? I haven't tried the dairy free diet yet, mainly because I'm hoping this is just a phase and he goes back to being a happy baby that would only wake twice a night for a feed!

  • Who has breakfast ideas for a six month old? Someone has posted a question to the page. Can you help out?

  • Mummies of reflux babies, what are or were your go-to solids for breakfast & dinner? Miss 6 months has been on solids for a little while, has veggies (which I make myself) for lunch & then porridge & pears for breakfast & dinner but I think she's a bit over the porridge/will only eat it if distracted by toys... Any suggestions of reflux friendly options so that I can mix it up a bit for her? Thanks x

  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Patient's photo.

  • There is a new question to the page. Please look at the visitors posts and see if you can help with ideas for introducing solids.

  • Some info here about screen time for littlies. With our irritable children or siblings that need entertaining whilst we attend to our infants, screens sometimes get used so this information may be useful. I'm not posting it to say not to use them, but as a reminder of safe use. You are in control and can choose when to use them, and choose other activities at other times. E.G screens are for when mummy is feeding baby only. Its time to play outside now. Who has other tips for siblings when feeding baby or putting baby to bed? (Remember it is important to have some special time with siblings after you have attended to baby.) We would love to hear your ideas.

  • Hi I have a 6 month old who was diagnosed with silent reflux at 6 weeks we have struggled through breast feeding as he has quiet a bad feed aversion but I have been trying the last month to get him on to solids and he is just not interested in not sure if it is Age thing and just needs time or feed aversion putting him off a bit any advice?


  • Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ shared Inspiring and Positive Quotes's photo.

    We just aren't going to promise a time frame as we know how frustrating that is... When they sit, walk, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months... Enjoy your Sunday everyone.

  • Thank you to Ollie Ritchie our reporter

  • Click on the link above for a great diagram of why sleeping flat and and on the back is recommended.