The benefits of Shantala

The following is a student blog post by Patricia Moreira Miranda


The benefits of Shantala



Shantala massage is a highly respected ancient Indian massage technique, defined by its simplicity, enchanting rhythmic movements, and positive benefits for babies and children. It is a form of full body massage for babies which in India is part of the daily care routine. The French doctor Frederick Leboyer discovered a woman in Calcutta massaging her baby. Fascinated, he studied the technique and saw what a huge positive impact this had on the children. Dr. Leboyer introduced Shantala baby massage in Europe. It is important to note that the conditions during the first year are of substantial impact on the physical, emotional and psychological development of a child. In that period, baby massage is very supportive. It also promotes a healthy bonding process. Babies understand and listen to what parents do rather than what they say. Through baby massage, parents can communicate without words with their baby as body-language is the only language a baby can understand.




Touch is one of the main ways of communication, thus becoming an important means of strengthening human relationships, such as mother and son. Every human being needs to contact, considered one of the essential meanings, given their importance in human development. Through touch is a connection between people, we feel the presence of the other. The body of the mother contact, the child will have their first contact with the world and from there begin to have new experiences, this contact provides essentially security, warmth and comfort.

The babies need food, but much more to be loved and receive affection (Leboyer, 1995). Touch is communication, and that communication must be nurtured with care, love and affection. With the idea of ​​promoting what is fundamental for the newborn: love, affection and contact made by the communication between mother and child, more than a massage, is an art, an act of love. The concern that lets you wake up and expand on the baby which was experienced in the womb, and also further develop the bond between the mother and the baby, so the Shantala that besides being a preventive massage, restores the warmth of the womb and the direct link with the mother.


Benefits of the massage

Through gentle touches, with harmonious movements oriental wisdom comes assist the newborn in its development, Shantala stimulates various parts of the body, physiological and emotional benefits as well as a means to calm and comfort. The Shantala massage benefits both psychologically and physically, in that it provides a dialogue of love by touch. Massage is a unique art of “touching with quality” to provide relaxation in the whole body or specific parts, is an expanded form of touch that, once properly developed and practiced will provide greater knowledge and understanding of the baby (MONTAGU, 1988).


There are many benefits, starting with the improvement of communication with the mother or whoever is doing the massage, the whole process benefits both the child and who is interacting with it (LIMA, 2004). The practice of massage developed in both mother and baby, their sensitivities through shared touch, awakening and creating a sense of memory (Breton and Silva, 1998).

Among the numerous benefits that shantala provides the baby, Walker (2000), mentions the following:


v  Intimacy and joy between the mother and the baby;


v  Discovery of caresses the baby likes best and body emplacement who prefers to be cherished;


v  Transmission feeling of love and protection to the baby;


v  Strengthening of affective and emotional bond;


v  Development of the baby’s sense of security;


v  Aid digestion;


v  The baby’s immune system strengthening.


The massage effects have also been described in premature. According to Field et al, (1986) premature stimulated show weight gain and improved motor behavior compared to the control group. The Shantala Massage interferes in stress hormones and neuropeptides related to pain, relaxing and changing the emotional state of the child (Bretas and Silva, 1998).


So, there is no doubt that Shantala is a very good technique to improve the health of a baby, even newborns, and also to strength the bounding between the family and the baby. It is a cheap and practice way to give love to a baby in the best way: touching and letting him/she know that there is love and care around him/her. 




BRÊTAS, J. R. S.; SILVA, M. G. B. Massagem em bebês: uma abordagem psicomotora. Desenvolvimento, v.7, no 39, p. 24-32, 1998;

FIELD, T. M.; SCHANBERG, S. M.; SCAFIDI, F.; BAUER C. R.; VEJA L. N. Tactile/kinesthetic stimulation effects on preterm neonates. Pediatrics, v. 77(5).

LEBOYER, Frédérick. Shantala: massagem para bebês: uma arte tradicional. 5 ed. São Paulo: Ground, 1995.

LIMA, P. L. S. Estudo exploratório sobre os benefícios da shantala em bebês portadores de Síndrome de Down. Dissertação de mestrado em Psicologia. Curitiba, 2004.

MONTAGU, Ashley. Tocar: o significado humano da pele. 9 ed. São Paulo: Summus, 1988.

WALKER, Peter. Massagem em bebês: Um guia passo a passo de diversas práticas e exercícios de flexibilidade para bebês de até 3 anos. São Paulo: Pensamento, 2000.

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