Baby massage is a unique modality of massage therapy where gentle and light strokes are used to massage infants and babies using a light oil spread over the body. The main aim is to replicate the general massage therapy techniques using gentle strokes to help improve the physical and emotional well-being of babies
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The many and valued benefits of massage therapy are well known to a large percentage of the world’s adult population, however as some of us begin starting families we may wonder if our little ones could also benefit.
Natural and Alternative medicine has gained in popularity over the past decade, and many have begun regular visits to a Naturopathic Doctor or Chiropractor for a portion of their children’s health needs, and have seen the positive results. However, it has yet to become common for parents to include their children and even their infants in a regular massage therapy regime.
Is massage for a baby or child helpful?
Many questions arise as to the safety and effectiveness of massage therapy for children. This may be in large part due to the fact that most adults do not seek out back massage until they have begun experiencing pain and even injury often associated with overworking and less than ideal conditions.
In fact the primary reason new customers first begin to use MassageJoy is when they have already begun experiencing pain and discomfort. This by extension leads most to the assumption that it is an adult issue and massage therapy can only help adults. This, however, could not be further from the truth.
Children also frequently overuse muscles and sustain injury due to many hours carrying heavy backpacks, books, and sports gear. At the same time they spend hours each school day sitting at a desk studying lessons, often with poor posture.
Not only children, but infants and babies can, and often do, experience muscle strains during childbirth and in the early months of life as they learn to explore the world around them. This means that infants and babies also often have muscle soreness associated with strain and overuse.
As with all muscle strain, injury is possible. While not always as common in children, it is still very possible and is actually becoming more common depending on the child’s extra-curricular activities.
If your child regularly carries a heavy study load, spending many hours a day at a desk, or if they are involved in sports or music classes that require physical strain, then they will definitely benefit from massage therapy.
Benefits of massage to babies, infants and children
It is advisable to speak with a professional massage therapist along with your pediatrician to discuss the many benefits of massage therapy for your baby.
There are benefits that reach beyond just the physical. As with adults, baby massage is also helpful for emotional and psychological well-being due to the release of the “happy hormones”, serotonin and oxytocin, leading to an overall sense of well-being.
The improved sleep patterns and relaxation also helps children who suffer from ADHD and anxiety.
Undoubtedly massage therapy will make a huge difference in the health and well-being of infants and children of all ages. The benefits and improvements have been well documented by researchers.
Interestingly, it can even help with more serious cases where children have behavioral issues.
According to a 2008 article published in the European Journal of Special Needs Education, children with aggressive behavior showed significant improvement with massage therapy.
Is Massage Therapy Safe for Children?
There is no question that massage therapy is safe, given that you have spoken with the child’s pediatrician and a professional masseuse. There are very little risks for this type of wellness treatment for your little ones. And it very well may prevent an injury or larger problem. Many children and even babies greatly enjoy massage therapy and look forward to it.
The practice of massage on infants is nothing new, in fact the famed nurse and midwife Florence Nightingale influenced the medical profession to include massage training for nurses in the Edwardian period.
The Many Benefits of Baby Massage
- Reduced Stress
- Greater Relaxation
- Improved Sleep Patterns
- Strengthened Mother-Child Bond
- Improved Mood and Concentration
- Increased Blood Flow
- Better Flexibility
- Reduced Pain and Injuries
- Behavioral Improvements
- Better Overall Mood
- Increased Strength
- Improved Posture
Can I Give My Baby a Massage?
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Absolutely! In fact, according to the British Journal of Midwifery in 2015, infant massage is often encouraged by midwives and other health professionals for calming fussy babies, improving the mother-baby bond and for essential care of baby’s delicate skin, which is the largest and least developed organ on a newborn.
Infant and child massage is very simple and easy to do at home for the purpose of relaxation and ease of stress. It is good to keep in mind, however, that if you are attempting to treat a strain or muscle pain or problems that your child is experiencing, it is best to get the help of a professional massage therapist.
It is always important to remember to be gentle, especially with infants or any child unable to verbalize their needs clearly. It is important to use a very light touch with little pressure in order to not cause soft tissue or bone injury.
As with any massage, it is important that everyone is comfortable. If your baby is fussy these steps may help assist you in utilizing home massage to calm your baby, and strengthen the parent-child bond.
- Check the temperature of the room, ensuring it is comfortable.
- Attend to any other need the baby might have that could cause fussiness
- Lower the lighting to create a calm atmosphere
- Use a lotion or baby oil that is safe for infants and non-irritating for your baby’s skin.
- Keep the pressure very light and gentle
Baby Massage – Ancient Benefits, Modern Needs
As we can clearly see, the long known health benefits of massage are documented even in ancient times. But with our busy, modern lifestyles we often neglect the simplest solutions. Thankfully, it is easier than ever to schedule a massage with the many options available.
It is now possible to schedule a masseuse to even come to you in the comfort of your own home, which may help young children feel more at ease. And online booking makes it even easier. Why wait? Our children deserve the best we can give.