Supporting fathering through infant massage

J Perinat Educ. 2011 Fall;20(4):200-9. doi: 10.1891/1058-1243.20.4.200.


Fathers may feel dissatisfied with their ability to form a close attachment with their infants in the early postpartum period, which, in turn, may increase their parent-related stress. Our study sought to determine if an infant massage intervention assisted fathers with decreasing stress and increasing bonding with their infants during this time. To address the complex father-infant relationship, we conducted a pilot study using a mixed methodology approach. Twelve infant-father dyads participated in the intervention, and 12 infant-father dyads populated a wait-list control group. Paternal stress was measured using the Parenting Stress Index at baseline and at postintervention. We found infant massage instruction significantly decreased paternal stress. Our findings were also supported by the qualitative data and suggest fathers may benefit from applied postnatal education.

Keywords: fathers; infant massage; mixed-methods.