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Paediatric Massage: Benefits for Infants and Children

Touch is a sense that is one of the first to develop in humans, and probably all forms of life. It is said that touch can convey more than a thousand words, and children are known to thrive with the right amount of physical contact.

Massage is a form of touch therapy that has been prevalent for centuries all over the world. Ancient Indian, East Asian and African cultures first introduced the practice of daily infant massage, soon after babies were born, to promote weight gain, co-ordination, bonding and to increase the infants’ ability to thrive. It conveys to the child a sense of security and trust that is very essential for the newcomer into the world.

It has only been in more recent times that massage has been introduced to babies and children in western cultures. It is seen in settings such as Neonatal Intensive Care Units and even more recently in children with developmental or neurological conditions. Some parents are now even seeking the expertise of a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) to help teach them how to massage their own infants and are carrying these skills and rituals with their little ones through childhood and into adolescence.

Here is a list of benefits that massage can provide to your infant or child…

Massage Therapy for Infants

Whether your baby is a newborn or several months old, massage can bring immediate and lasting results. You can learn techniques to massage your infant by a RMT or they can be performed on your infant by the therapist themselves, depending on your babies health needs. Massage can help …

  1. Your baby/child sleep deeper and more soundly.
  2. Promote relaxation and help babies self-regulate and calm.
  3. Enhance neurological development.
  4. Relieve the discomforts of gas, teething, colic and congestion.
  5. Stimulate all of the physiological systems. Massage sparks the neurons in their brains to grow and branch out to encompass other neurons.

Massage Therapy for Children

Massage can be helpful for children who experience a wide range of symptoms, from musculoskeletal pain caused by sports injuries, to helping with neurological conditions or anxiety. Massage can help…

  1. Decrease musculoskeletal pain and increase healing.
  2. Increase body awareness and neurological development.
  3. Decrease levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and blood glucose levels. The reduction in stress in children boosts the immune system and its ability to resist diseases.
  4. Stimulate motor development.
  5. Stimulate cognitive development (increased alertness as well as speed and accuracy).

Massage as a therapy seems to work for children, whether they are infants, preschoolers, or teens. Furthermore, making massage a routine in the child’s life can help them to grow into a balanced and healthy adult.

Heather Alexander-Clark

About Heather Alexander-Clark

Heather grew up in Hamilton, Ontario where she studied classical ballet for 16 years. Dance became her first experience in connecting mind and body. She went on to study Kinesiology at Brock University where she focused on the science behind injury and recovery. After graduating Heather worked as a Kinesiologist in a rehabilitation clinic. A course in Cranial Sacral Therapy became a pivotal event in Heather realizing the power of body work to promote wellness. This led her to study for a post-graduate diploma in Massage Therapy at Sutherland-Chan here in Toronto. Four years ago she completed her training with CAPPA Canada as a Birth Doula as well as gaining a certification in Infant Massage and feels lucky to be able to work with families as they strive for optimal health and well-being for their children.

Learn more about Heather Alexander-Clark

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