Helping Your Baby The Natural Way!

Infant Massage and Depressed Mothers

In a study currently underway, we are teaching mothers who are depressed to massage their infants.  We want to examine the effects of the massage therapy on the infants’ disorganized interaction behavior and their disturbed sleep patterns.

Adolescent mothers who have high Beck Depression Inventory scores are recruited for the study shortly after their infants are born.  For this study we have asked depressed mothers to perform a 15-minute massage daily for a two-week period. Preliminary results suggest the following:

* Infants’ drowsiness and quiet sleep increased immediately following the massage, and activity decreased, as might be expected;

* The infants’ latency to sleep was shorter following the massage therapy study (by the end of the two-week period the latency to sleep decreased from 22 to 9 minutes);

* The infants’ showed increased vocalizations, decreased restlessness and improved affect during mother-infant play interactions, and the mother’s play behavior became more age-appropriate;

* The infants’ fussiness decreased after the two-week period; and

* The infants’ depressed mothers perceived their “depressed” infants as being easier to soothe.

These data on decreased fussiness and more organized sleep suggested that we should conduct studies having parents massage their colicky infants and their infants with sleep disturbances.  Thus, we are using the same model for those groups.

Touch Research Institute
University of Miami School of Medicine
Tiffany Field, Ph.D.
Zero to Three Journal October/November 1993