Getting a baby to sleep so they can get a good nights rest is often a new parents' greatest challenge. There has been a lot of research done on massage with hospitalized babies, who are generally small and vulnerable.
Research has established that hospitalized babies grow faster if they are massaged correctly. This involves using oil and a firm yet gently stroking (light, tickling touch isn't recommended).
At first, the researchers thought that the massaged babies were gaining more weight because they were sleeping more. When they did video studies they found that these tiny, massaged babies actually spent more time in quiet, unstressed, alert states, and their sleep time was deeper and more restful. This meant better, more organized sleep/wake patterns. This has been noticed in all babies who are massaged.*
Baby Massage: A Video for Loving Parents - is intended for the parents at home with a baby. These wonderful, ordinary babies have not been studied as much, but the results are the same. This is great news for parents who are trying to get a nap in or a good night of rest. If your baby has a routine fussy time in late afternoon doing the massage about an hour before it usually starts can often avert it altogether.
If you are a working parent, doing a massage right after getting home will help you to reconnect with your baby and you can all relax. Once you and the baby have developed a routine you will have a skill that DOES quiet your upset child. There will be times when this is just what is needed; not food, not a fresh diaper, but soothing, relaxing touch ... for your child to be comfortable and ... fall ... asleep.
Little babies sleep when they need to sleep, if they possible can. You can make your child comfortable. Even if other circumstances are new and stimulating or distressing, your regular, routine massage will be something your baby can count on. If you massage your baby every day, there will be a day (WE PROMISE!) when massage will be the trick that "helps" your baby sleep.
* From the Touch Research Institute