Brain and Body Connections

In response to sensory stimulation, neurons send messages to the brain and the brain sends messages back, creating a connection and a response. Everything your baby does, smells, tastes, sees, hears or feels strengthens each particular connection. In fact, a healthy newborn begins life with an estimated 100 billion neurons in their brain, nearly twice the amount of the average adult, creating a vast web with the possibility of trillions of connections!

Important brain and body connections will be made stronger during your PLAYssage time. Medium pressure massage, facilitated movement, eye contact, and music exposure, all vital elements of PLAYssage, have been observed to improve digestion, sleep, growth, comfort, learning, and socialization. Additionally, studies show that exposure to music and eye contact may improve brain function. And hearing you speak and sing helps your baby begin to learn language and rhythm. Benefits have also been noted in children with special needs, such as autism and down syndrome.

Not only is massage beneficial for your baby, but it’s one of the most precious gifts you can give to yourself. Giving and receiving massage stimulates the release of oxytocin — a natural chemical in your body that creates feelings of peace and calm. It will help you to bond with your baby and give you confidence as you learn to understand and respond to their cues. Parents and caregivers performing massages can experience reduced stress, increased confidence, and build bonds that will continue to grow.

For Baby


  • Decreased gas and constipation (1)
  • Improved elimination (1)


  • Improved sleep patterns (2, 3)
  • Faster onset of sleep (3)
  • Increased melatonin production at night (2)
  • Increased activity and alertness during the day (3)


  • Improved muscle tone (4)
  • Increased weight in premies (5,6,7)
  • Increased body temperature in premies (8)


  • Decreased colic symptoms (9)
  • Decreased response to pain (10)
  • Decreased fussiness (11)
  • Faster recovery from pain (10)


  • Improved motor skill development (4)
  • Improved spatial awareness (12)


  • Social skills and language learning stimulated by eye contact. (13, 14)
  • Improved ability to predict tones and rhythmic patterns in language with music exposure. (15)
For Parent/Caregiver
  • Decreased postpartum depression symptoms (16, 17)
  • Increased confidence (18)
  • Improved understanding of non-verbal cues (18)
For Baby & Parent/Caregiver
  • Decreased stress (lower cortisol) (11,19)
  • Release of oxytocin (20)
  • Increased attachment (16,17, 21)
  • Deepened mutual bond (18, 22)
  • Brain wave, emotional and heart rate synchronization during direct eye contact (23)

PLAYssage is one of the best activities you can do with your baby to promote healthy growth and development!

Studies referenced above: 1) McClurg, D., Lowe-Strong, A. (2011), Does abdominal massage relieve constipation? Nurs Times, 4:107(12), 20-2. 2) Ferber SG, Laudon M, Kuint J, Weller A, Zisapel N. (2002) Massage therapy and sleep-wake rhythms in the neonate. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 23(6), 410-415 3) Field, T., & Hernandez-Reif, M., (2001). Sleep problems in infants decrease following massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care, 168, 95-104 4) Paleg, G., Livingstone, R., Romness, M. (2017), Occupational and physical therapy interventions for children with central hypotonia. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 59, 113–114 5) Ferber, S. G., Kuint, J., Weller, A., Feldman, R., Dollberg, S., Arbel, Kohelet D., (2002). Massage therapy by mothers and trained professional enhances weight gain in preterm infants. Early Hum Dev, 67, 37–456) Field, Tiffany (2001). Massage therapy facilitates weight gain in preterm infants. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10 (2), 51-54 7) Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Dieter, J., Kumar, A., Schanberg, S. & Kuhn, C. (2008). Preterm infant massage therapy research. Infant Behavior & Development, 33, 115-124. 8) Diego, M. A., Field, T. & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2008). Temperature increases in preterm infants during massage therapy. Infant Behavior & Development, 31, 149-152. 9) Bahrami HR, Kiani MA, Noras MR. Massage for Infantile Colic: Review and Literature. Int J Pediatr 2016; 4(6): 1953-58. 10) Diego, M. A., Field, T. & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2009). Procedural pain heart rate responses in massaged preterm infants. Infant Behavior & Development, 32, 226-229. 11) Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M. & Field, T. (2007). Preterm infants show reduced stress behaviors and activity after 5 days of massage therapy. Infant Behavior & Development, 30, 557-561. 12) Filippetti, M. L., Orioli, G., Johnson, M. H., & Farroni, T. (2015). Newborn Body Perception: Sensitivity to Spatial Congruency. Infancy, 20(4), 455–465. 13) Grossmann, T., Johnson, M. H. (2007). The development of the social brain in human infancy. European Journal of Neuroscience, 25: 909–919 14) Farroni, T., Csibra, G., Simion, F., Johnson, M. (2002). Eye contact detection in humans from birth. PNAS, 99 (14), 9602-9605 15) Zhao, T..Christina and Kuhl, Patricia K. (2016), Musical intervention enhances infants’ neural processing of temporal structure in music and speech. PNAS, 113 (19), 5212-5217 16) Glover V., Onozawa K., Hodgkinson A. (2002). Benefits of infant massage for mothers with postnatal depression, Seminars in Neonatology, 7(6), 495-500 17) O’Higgins M., St. James Roberts I., Glover V. (2008). Postanatal depression and mother and infant outcomes after infant massage, Journal of Affective Disorders, 109(1,2), 189-192 18) Cullen, C., Field, T., Escalona, A. & Hartshorn, K. (2000). Father-infant interactions are enhanced by massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care, 164, 41-47. 19) Neu, M, Pan Z, Workman R, Marcheggiani-Howard C, Furuta G, Laudenslager ML. (2014). Benefits of massage therapy for infants with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Biol Res Nurs, 16(4), 387-397 20) Morhenn V., Beavin LE., Zak PJ. (2002). Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 18(6),11-8 21) Gürol A. (2012). The Effects of Baby Massage on Attachments between Mother and their Infants, Asian Nursing Research, 6(1), 35-41 22) Porreca A, Parolin M, Bozza G, Freato S, Simonelli A. (2016) Infant Massage and Quality of Early Mother–Infant Interactions: Are There Associations with Maternal Psychological Wellbeing, Marital Quality, and Social Support?, Frontiers in Psychology. 7, 2049 23) Leong, V., Byrne, E., Clackson, K., Georgieva, S., Lam, S., Wass, S. (2017), Speaker gaze increases information coupling between infant and adult brains. PNAS, vol. 114 no. 50: 13290-13295