Children’s massage is important to children’s health lets find out how! Children’s massage isn’t something that’s new. But it seems, as we moved into the modern era that parents looked towards other methods to soothe and encourage growth in children. Pacifiers, vibrating chairs, colorful blinking lights, and TV are used as tools to distract and soothe babies and children in current times. Our ancestors didn’t use any of these things to keep babies calm. I remember being a small child in Trinidad, watching my grandmother and great grandmother “rub down” my newborn cousins with coconut oil. They also performed exercises that stretched arms, legs and abdomen. It turns out that modern research has found that massaging babies and children can help to reduce colic & stress, promote strength and overall well-being. Our ancestors used touch to help us be better as we grew. I feel we should continue to pass this tradition along to our children.
My daughter was the motivation for my interest in exploring child massage. I remember her being restless to sleep as an infant and currently she is learning to write. I have used massage to encourage her to get a calm and restful sleep as a newborn. I currently massage for my new writer’s hands as encouragement to complete her homework.
Performing massage has also helped me develop, what I feel is a sensitive and compassionate child. It’s the coolest thing, to see my daughter offer to give a massage as a solution when I tell her my feet hurt. And it’s even more gratifying when she asks me to massage her neck or back because she hurts. At five years old she already knows the benefit of massage, I plan on using massage for as long as my daughter will allow to continue to build compassion and body awareness. Massage is hands down important to children’s health.
I try not to assume that everyone automatically knows how important touch is to themselves, or their children’s health. Some of us are very touchy feely, most have a personal bubble which people may enter with permission and the remaining people are touch adverse, only allowing a few to come close to an embrace. No matter where you stand with your personal preferences I encourage you to introduce your children to touch and appropriate touch as early as you can. No matter your child’s age the numerous benefits to massaging your child can also lay the foundation for a closer bond and increased self esteem between parents and children. Touch is so important for everyone and especially important for the development of children.
Child massage has numerous benefits:
– a more balanced and happier child
-enhancing your relationship with your child
-physically ease from body tension
-increased blood flow
-improved motor development
-increased sense of compassion
-increased self esteem in your child
-encourages hormone development including the hormone responsible for growth
-positive boundaries with interpersonal touch
-the ability to identify body tension
-less pain and discomfort from gas and constipation
Massage at a young age also helps to prevent:
-fear of touch
-poor body image
-lack of body awareness
-high level of anxiety
-high levels of body tension
Here are some tips to consider during your first tries at child massage.
-Consider you own thoughts and history about touch.
Think about what type of person you want your child to be. Ok, I know this sounds deep. But do you want your child to be exposed to some of the benefits listed above? Do you wish your own parents reached out to hug you more when you were growing up? Or even now as an adult? I myself thought my mother was very physically affectionate in the sense of hugs and kissing when I was younger. But after some reflection I realized that my mom isn’t as affectionate as I thought as I got older. So I commit myself to continue to be physically affectionate to my daughter as she continues to get older. Do you wish you were more comfortable with reaching out to comfort loved ones or friends? Ask yourself questions. Explore how you feel. And consider your history and your own hang up or positive experiences and let this information help to guide you along this amazing experience.
-Massage with love and compassion.
Try massaging your child when you are feeling stressed will not feel good to your child. You may risk injuring your child because you are not focused on your hands and the reaction of your child. Take a shower, stretch, spend some quiet time to calm down before you give this living compassionate touch to your child. Then enjoy massaging when you are calmed and ready to comfort your child.
-Get familiar with the anatomy of the body.
I wouldn’t stress about knowing the names of all muscles and bones, but take a glance at a body muscle map and understand what you are touching. I say stay away from compressing bendy parts aka joints of the body as they are more sensitive to touch and have sensitive tendons, nerves and arteries.
Most grown ups enjoy firm pressure. But children have muscles that are still developing and are pretty brand new. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a light, slow and gentle massage.
-Keep it short and simple.
Don’t over think massaging. Follow your intuition, pay attention to your child reactions. Start with 5 or 10 minutes and gradually longer if your child will let you and is still in a pleasant mood…keep going!
-Keep in mind massage typically feels ticklish to young children.
After babies get past that new born phase, being ticklish is something that develops. Be creative with your timing and make a game of it. I normally massage my daughter right after a bath and before the pj’s go on. I use a lotion that she likes and I talk to her about how much she’s grown. Talking is a great distraction.
Some things to say:
“Oh my! Look at these long legs. I think you’ve grown”
“Look at this beautiful face. Did you know you are beautiful” (she normally answers with a “yes”.) Yes, Massage builds confidence.
-Use this opportunity to educate your child about their body and boundaries related to appropriate touch.
Teach your child about parts of the body, muscles and bones. By starting massage young, your child will innately understand the difference between a good touch and a bad one. I remind my daughter that it’s ok for her to talk to me about things going on with her body and find that she is very comfortable about telling me right away when something doesn’t feel right. I teach my daughter about places that no one is allowed to touch and constantly remind her on what to do if this occurs.
-Keep a Journal.
As parents and care takers our lives are super scheduled and full of things to complete on our todo lists. I suggest making it a priority to write a few sentences about your child’s development and their growth once a month or so. Trust me when you go back and read about how tiny your child’s hands were, you’ll be amazed to have this documentation of how amazing life really is. Feeling of sentiment well up every time I go back and read the journal I’ve kept for my daughter since she was newborn. I am excited for her to get older and read it herself.
Appreciate this time you are spending with your child. Children grow so quickly. Laugh and enjoy the experience. As long as it’s done will love and laughter you and your child will both benefit.
Child massage will help your child grow with a strong physical and emotional connection to you. Enjoy these treasured moments.
I sourced a lot of back up information for this writing from “Baby & Child Massage” By Robert Toporek.
YouTube.com has some great resources for infant and child massage therapy.
This video has some great points about how to communicate with your child before the massage.
These video shows some techniques for head and face.
This video is an example of a new born oil massage. I would be a little more gentile with a baby this young but this lady looks as if she’s done this before.
This video is very educational quick massage tips for infants.
Preview YouTube video Massage to Treat Child With Sinus Congestion : How Massage Therapy Can Relieve Allergy Symptoms
Massage to Treat Child With Sinus Congestion : How Massage Therapy Can Relieve Allergy Symptoms
Preview YouTube video Massage to Treat Child With Sinus Congestion : Massaging Scalp of Child to Treat Sinus Congestion
Massage to Treat Child With Sinus Congestion : Massaging Scalp of Child to Treat Sinus Congestion
Preview YouTube video Massage for Children With Earaches : Massaging a Child With an Earache: Forehead & Chin
Massage for Children With Earaches : Massaging a Child With an Earache: Forehead & Chin
Preview YouTube video Newborn Baby Wesley Oil Massage Unleashed
Newborn Baby Wesley Oil Massage Unleashed
Preview YouTube video Massage Therapy treatment for an Infant Child
Massage Therapy treatment for an Infant Child
No matter what, children’s massage is a contributor to Children’s health and what’s more important than that?