Infant massage more effective than rocking for relieving colic: study

A study carried out at a university in Iran has found that infant massage is a more effective approach to help relieve the symptoms of colic than rocking a baby.

Colic is characterised by bouts of extreme crying in otherwise healthy infants three months old and under. There is usually no specific underlying cause.

The study involved 100 babies who had been referred for help with colic, between 1 and 2 weeks of age.  The mothers were assigned to one group who used massage or a second group who held and rocked their babies. In the massage group, mothers were asked to massage their child three times per day over a period of 7 days. In the rocking group mothers rocked their child during the periods of crying every day over 7 days. In both groups mothers recorded the duration of their infant’s cries by using a checklist.

In the massage group the average crying time and duration of crying for infants was more at the start of the week than in the rocking group. However by the end of the week the results showed a mean difference in crying time duration reduce to 1.32 hours/day in the massage group compared to 2.14 hours/day in the rocking group. There was also a more significant reduction in the times per day a baby cried in the massage group than in the rocking group.

The researchers therefore concluded that infant massage not only reduces how many times a baby cries and duration of crying in infants with colic but can also enhance the relationship between mother and child.


Gazerani, N., Nahidi, F., Yousefi, P., & Abadi, R. (2012). The effect of infant massage in comparison with rocking on the duration and frequency of crying time in patients with infantile colic. Arak Medical University Journal. 15 (60), 9 -103.