Massage makes your baby more cleverer – really??
Does regular massage make you baby smarter? Don’t start laughing too soon…
Intelligence is not a fixed thing that a new baby is born with. And it is hard to measure. There are of course IQ tests that we sometimes do as we grow up or apply for a job, but what do they really show? Mainly what you have learned up to then and which thought processes you have learned to use to solve a problem.
It is very well possible to “train the brain”, right from being a newborn baby. The most important in this, is to introduce new things. Every time your baby experiences something new, it opens millions of new processing paths in their brain. And it is obvious that this happens a lot during those first years!
The first time you massage your baby, this is a new sensation, having the effect mentioned above: activating neurons and opening new processing paths in the brain. When you massage your baby regularly, the body and also the brain get used to it. Then you can introduce something else that is new, and which will have a similar effect on the brain.
This enhances a process called habituation: a form of learning. It helps your baby’s brain open up to, and process, new experiences. It will be easier for the brain to process the next new experience. Can you see why adults are encouraged to keep doing a bit of brain training as well? The brain thrives on stimulation. Be aware to not overdo it, though!
It has been found that babies and toddlers that were stimulated (basically children up to the age of 5 years), grow into more successful and balanced adolescents and adults. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favour of specifically training your baby so that he or she will be ahead of their peers as soon as they start kindy or pre-school. However, don’t we all want our children to do the best they can, without pushing them too hard? Stimulating the senses from being a newborn baby and encouraging their curiosity can help them in a nice, gentle and supportive way.
Massage works on so many levels: the most obvious one being touch: skin to skin contact. Secondly wouldn’t you sing or talk while massaging your 3 month old baby? Name the body part you’re working on or count those tiny baby toes and fingers? The love and attention you give your baby and the eye to eye contact add to helping her or him thrive as well.
And don’t underestimate the importance of sleep: during sleep the body and brain process all the new experiences and information. If your newborn baby does not sleep well, massage will help your baby find its circadian rhythm, increasing the quality of their sleep and thus processing all those new experiences.