Parents told to massage babies for good night's sleep

Parents who want to ensure their newborn baby sleeps at night should try giving their child a massage.

Researchers have found it can be as good as rocking at lowering stress levels in infants, helping them sleep better and cry less.

It can also promote and strengthen the bonds between parents and their new baby.

They concluded that massage could be a useful technique for parents who want to find ways to improve their babies' sleep and ability to relax.

Infant massage has traditionally been used in some parts of the world including Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union.

It is also increasingly being recommended to UK parents in antenatal or special baby massage classes. In each case the parents giving the massage had been trained by health workers.

Overall the research showed infants benefited from massage as they tended to cry less, sleep better and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who did not receive massages.

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