Massage therapy is beneficial across the life span! While you may not find massage centers catering to babies and children, you can use gentle massage techniques on you children safely at home.
Touch is the first sense to develop in humans and is essential to our health and well-being. Babies without enough physical contact fail to thrive. Children who are raised with healthy views of touch and positive tactile experiences are more likely to grow up to be adults with healthy self-esteem and relationships.
Infant massage is an excellent way to nurture and spend time with your baby. Infant massage can encourage interaction between you and your baby, help your baby to relax and sleep, reduce crying, and reduce hormones that control stress. Further research is being conducted but studies have shown that massage promotes growth in premature infants. Premature infants may have developed a negative association with touch if they have experienced uncomfortable and painful medical procedures, so a new and positive experience with touch is beneficial.
It is best to avoid massaging an infant after a feeding since doing so may cause them to vomit. Your baby’s mood is also a great indicator of the right time for a massage. If he or she seems happy and content then go for it, but if the baby is turning their head away from you, it would be best to wait until later.
Your baby may enjoy a massage as part of their nightly bedtime routine, such as after a bath and before dressing them in their pajamas. Create a calm and warm atmosphere by making sure the room temperature is not too cold and lay your baby on a blanket. Use a gentle touch to massage your baby but avoid tickling them so that the baby does not become irritated.
Toddlers and older children can also reap the benefits of massage therapy. Try to make it a part of their nightly bedtime routine to help them relax and prepare their bodies for sleep. Stress may seem like simply a manifest of adult life, but children also experience stress and can benefit from the stress-reducing benefits of massage. Starting school, navigating friendships, struggling with school work, and illness are all potential sources of stress in your child’s life. Stress in the home such as an adult’s illness, job loss, or divorce can also lead your child feeling stressed. A nightly massage can help reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, circulating in the blood. Use light but firm pressure and aim for the massage to last for 15 to 20 minutes since longer can be overstimulating.