Infant massage – a positive way to enhance the bond between teen mothers and their babies: study

Poor infant outcomes have been identified in various studies for those babies who have teen mothers. These outcomes are often as a result of the mothers becoming parents while experiencing the typical stresses of adolescence.

A study in the US, however, has found that teaching infant massage to teen mothers has positive outcomes for both the mothers and babies.  25 adolescent mothers participated in the study, with 9 being the intervention group and 16 the control group.

Participants were trained in baby massage techniques and asked to massage their babies daily over a 2 month period. At the end of this time the mothers completed questionnaires on their perceived levels of depression and maternal stress.

Maternal confidence was reported as higher in the intervention group than the control group. The mothers’ perceptions of their babies’ temperaments was also a significant difference between the two groups – the mothers in the intervention group indicating more positive feelings regarding their babies’ temperaments than the control group. This particular finding is significant in that that being adept in infant massage may make mothers better equipped to recognise and understand their baby’s cues, and as a result are more likely to respond in appropriate ways.

Oswalt, K., Biasini, F., Wilson, L., & Mrug, S. (2009). Outcomes of a massage intervention on teen mothers: A pilot study. Pediatric Nursing, 35(5), 284 – 317