Benefits of Infant Massage for Infants and Parents in the NICU

Nurs Womens Health. 2019 Jun;23(3):265-271. doi: 10.1016/j.nwh.2019.03.004. Epub 2019 May 3.


Infant massage is an ancient therapeutic technique used around the world. For infants who experience painful procedures, are exposed to the stressful NICU environment, and are separated from their parents, infant massage has been promoted as a method to reduce stress and promote bonding. In this article, we review the current literature on infant massage in the NICU. There is evidence that infant massage has beneficial effects on preterm infants in the NICU, including shorter length of stay; reduced pain; and improved weight gain, feeding tolerance, and neurodevelopment. Parents who performed massage with their infants in the NICU reported experiencing less stress, anxiety, and depression. Neonatal nurses can obtain education and certification in infant massage and can teach parents infant massage techniques, thereby promoting the health and well-being of parent-infant dyads.

Keywords: NICU; infant massage; neonatal intensive care unit; newborn massage; premature.

MeSH terms

  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / organization & administration
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Massage / standards*