Massage therapy by parents improves early growth and development

Tiffany Field, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Miguel Diego, Larissa Feijo, Yanexy Vera, Karla Gil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This study assessed the effects of moderate and light pressure massage on the growth and development of young infants. A recent study by Diego, Field, Sanders, and Hernandez-Reif (2004) showed that persons who were given moderate pressure massage, as compared with persons who received light massage or vibratory stimulation, experienced a decrease in heart rate, EEG changes associated with a relaxation response and positive affect, and the greatest decrease in stress. In the present study, mothers were instructed to massage their newborn infants once per day using either light or moderate pressure. The infants' growth (i.e., weight, length, head circumference), sleep behavior, and performance on the Brazelton scale were assessed soon after birth and at one month of age. As compared to infants who received a light pressure massage, infants in the moderate pressure group gained more weight, were greater length, performed better on the orientation scale of the Brazelton, had lower Brazelton excitability and depression scores, and exhibited less agitated behavior during sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-442
Number of pages8
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Infants
  • Massage therapy
  • Parents
  • Touch research institutes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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