Posted by Jillian Rieckmann
“MOM, Mom!” my daughter calls from her room, blanket and lotion in hand. “Can I please have a massage before bed, I’m soo sore”. One thing is for sure, my four year old is far too young to be sore, but she sure loves her massages. Since she was born, I have been incorporating massages into her bedtime routine. This is a very special time for us that not only relaxes her, but relaxes me as well. I have seen first hand the wonderful benefits infant massage has had on my daughter, and I have gotten amazing feedback from all of the parents who I have taught. I hope to educate as many new parents as possible on how to safely treat their children, so they too can reap the rewards that massage gives to a family.
The nurturing touch received with massage is a naturally beneficial way for both you and your baby to relieve stress. Massage is an effective treatment to offer infants/children relief of discomfort from constipation, colic, and gas by helping aid digestion.
Pediatric massage improves the infant’s delicate immune system by decreasing the body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that takes a toll on immune functioning. As well, massage causes the release of oxytocin, which is a nurturing hormone to reduce infant/childhood anxiety and helps them to relax. By relieving stress and reducing discomfort infants/children sleep better and are better able to cope with the busy world around them.
Massage also helps to increase circulation, increase alertness and enhance nervous system, neurological and intellectual development. Massage improves communication, by increasing confidence and sensitivity to your baby’s cues. Parents who massage their children are also able to build a greater bond, as it gives them time to interact and connect on a deeper level then regular day-to-day contact provides.
Baby massage is a wonderful way to help baby build a structured routine. Find a time that works for you, whether it’s first thing in the morning, after nap, after bath, or before bed. You can give a massage at anytime of the day. Sometimes it may only last seconds or sometimes you may be able to get through the whole routine. Judge by baby’s signals. (Unfortunately, they are not always predictable). Just remember that it’s always important for BOTH you and baby/child to be in a stress free mood, so that massage and touch is always a positive experience.
Any form of gentle, positive touch you give to your children is going to benefit them greatly. There really is no specific outline that needs to be followed to give your child a general massage, but I do recommend consulting a practitioner if you have any specific concerns related to massage, if you don’t feel totally confident, or if you plan on using massage to treat common childhood health issues.
NOTE: Do not massage infants or children if they …
• Have acute infections, fever, or are sick
• Have diarrhea
• Have any undiagnosed lumps or bumps
• Have a contagious disease
• Have any open sores or inflammation
• Have any fractures or recent surgery (within 8 weeks)
• Have serious skin conditions
• Were immunized within 24 hours
Baby Massage Oil: Although you can use any lotion you would regularly use on your child’s skin to massage, I like to use as little ingredients, and as natural ingredients as possible, to best care for the child’s skin. Here is an inexpensive, natural, easy massage oil to make.
Container to store oil
2 cups Organic grape seed oil
5 drops Lavender essential oil
Mix 2 cups of grape seed oil with 5 drops of lavender oil. Shake and voila, a safe and natural oil that will help promote relaxation and better sleep for your infant or child.