Just as it is for adults, massage therapy can be a very beneficial therapy for infants and children and has been shown to boost their emotional, physical and psychological well-being. The medical profession already knows about the benefits – for example Russian doctors routinely teach new moms how to massage their babies because they believe it enhances the development of their central nervous system.
Giving and receiving a massage can be very relaxing for a child and a parent. Plus, a massage could help soothe a crying baby with colic, teething and sleeping problems. It also helps parent and child to bond naturally by enhancing the natural connections between them, while the little one gets a feeling of security and feeling loved.
Infant and Baby Massage
If you’re going to massage your baby yourself, remember the golden rules;
1. Massage towards their heart – you’ll probably see baby massage videos where the movements pull downwards on a baby’s leg, the best way to massage, and to boost circulation and general health is to always exert slightly more pressure on the way up the body than on the way down. Your massage therapist can show you some basic strokes that are great for baby.
2. Use good quality carrier oils. Don’t use baby oil, it’s not designed for massage at all and can cause rashes. Use a good quality carrier oil, preferably organic for babies, best picked up from a health store. There’s no need to use essential oils in a baby massage, in fact it’s best not to until they are over a year old. The only time using essential oils is recommended on a very young child is if it’s been professionally blended by a therapist.
Massage and Older Children
Massage is equally great for older children, and as massage therapy is well known to lower stress hormones, helping to reduce anxiety and also boost the immune system, it’s the perfect way to help build your child up against the bugs and stresses of childhood. In some cases, massage therapy has even been shown to reduce asthma symptoms in children.
Other benefits of massage therapy for children include:
Improved Motor Skills
Children develop their motor skills as they and their bodies grow, and regular massage can help to reduce any pain or tension in the developing muscles that make learning motor skills possible. A study by
the University of Miami showed that massage even helped to boost the motor function of some children with Downs’ syndrome.
Improved Cognitive Development
Research has shown the pre-schoolers who had a 15-minute massage before an IQ test performed better than when they were just given books to read. The International Journal of Neuroscience also reported that having a massage appeared to improve brain function, which resulted in increased alertness, speed and accuracy during math problems.
Massage for Teens
They are at that tricky stage between childhood and adulthood, and just as in early childhood, teens experience massive physiological and psychological changes. Massage therapy can be a valuable addition to a teen routine.
High school sports can be demanding, and we can probably all remember our own sport-related mishaps. Teen athletes can be more vulnerable to injury than adults, so a massage is the perfect antidote and offers post-sport healing and pain relief.
Teenage years are also a very stressful time – everything seems so much of a big deal when you’re that awkward age, and with exams, study, first relationships and even body image worries, massage is a
great way to de-stress your teen. Also, for girls, menstrual pain can be intense as they settle into their cycle. Massage is one of the best therapies for menstrual cramps and girls can also benefit a lot from learning self-massage techniques for period pain.
So, if in doubt, find a good baby or child massage class near you, or book your teen in for a session, and you’ll both soon be feeing the benefits...