Massage therapy for infants of depressed mothers

Tiffany Field, Nancy Grizzle, Frank Scafidi, Sonya Abrams, Sarah Richardson, Cynthia Kuhn, Saul Schanberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Forty full-term 1-to 3-month-old infants born to depressed adolescent mothers who were low socioeconomic status (SES) and single parents were given 15 min of either massage (n = 20) or rocking for 2 days per week for a 6-week period. The infants who experienced massage therapy compared to infants in the rocking control group spent more time in active alert and active awake states, cried less, and had lower salivary cortisol levels, suggesting lower stress. After the massage versus the rocking sessions, the infants spent less time in an active awake state, suggesting that massage may be more effective than rocking for inducing sleep. Over the 6-week period, the massage-therapy infants gained more weight, showed greater improvement on emotionality, sociability, and soothability temperament dimensions and had greater decreases in urinary stress catecholamines/hormones (norepinephrine, epinephrine, cortisol).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-112
Number of pages6
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Depressed mothers
  • Infants
  • Massage therapy
  • Rocking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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