There aren’t many people who don’t like to be massaged, whether it’s their feet, back, shoulders, head, hands, or whole body. Well, kids are no different! In fact, the sense of touch is the first sense developed in the womb. Babies love to be touched, held, and snuggled with. While the look of the touch might change over the years, most children still enjoy it as they grow. Toddlers and preschoolers are more “on the move”, so they may visit your lap less during these years but most still like to be snuggled at least a couple of times a day. As your child grows, how you touch them differs a bit, but it’s still very much needed.
When I was preparing for my Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) certification a few years back, I asked my youngest 3 kids to help me to practice. You better believe they jumped at the chance! At that time they were 4, 7, and 7. They would line up, waiting for me massage some area of them, even requesting their favorite areas whenever possible. If you have a school aged child, who is not fond of being hugged or touched (you know, the odd tween years), this can be a good way to connect. While they might not want a hug, offering massage can be a nice way to connect with them with something they do find enjoyable.
Below are 15 reasons why you should be massaging your child, no matter how old they are (yes, you can massage your teen too – a neck/shoulder/back rub is usually much appreciated).
- When they’re infants, it helps with infant and parent bonding/attachment (especially helpful for new fathers or mothers who’ve had a traumatic or unexpected birth experience)
- Relief for digestion, waste elimination, gas, and colic symptoms (the special stomach strokes can help kids of all ages with bellyaches)
- Relief for teething pains
- Helps mothers deal with postpartum depression and anxiety (this can be anytime PP, not just in the infant months)
- Promotes better sleep (this is true for children of any age, as well as adults)
- Helps parents learn about their baby’s needs and desires during those first few months
- Facilitates body awareness for babies
- Sensory stimulation for kids of all ages
- Boosts immune system (we could all use this!)
- Improves skin condition (the oil you use matters!)
- Helps the child to feel loved and nurtured (again, good for all ages)
- Relaxation for parents and child (can really help to mellow out your child for a few minutes)
- Improves blood circulation
- Balances respiration
- Stimulates production of Oxytocin (hormone produced during massage that be useful as a pain reliever, has a calming effect, reduce stress, and enhances the bonding process)
As you can see, there are SO many reasons why massaging your child is awesome! I wish I had done more of it when my kids were babies, but I did at least always do it after baths. Finding the time can be as easy as doing it a few minutes after bath or before bed/nap. You can also choose to massage just one section a day, such as arms today and legs tomorrow.
As my children have gotten older, they will now ask for certain things, like belly rubs. Sometimes it’s a simple bellyache, but sometimes they’re having constipation issues that need my helping hands. I can’t tell you how many times that they have easily gone potty just a few minutes after I’ve given them a 5-10 minute belly massage. It’s really a wonderful tool to have as a parent!
Another great use of massage would be for headaches, colds, and sinus pressure. There are facial strokes that you can use on children of any age that can be super helpful to release pressure, help with pain, or keep the mucous flowing (sounds gross, but important so they don’t get a sinus infection). In fact, you can use those same techniques on yourself (though it’s not as much fun as having someone else do it for you)!
Finally, it wouldn’t be a Sleeptastic blog without the mention of sleep! Children are known to sleep deeper and longer after having a nice massage. Many parents who take my classes mention how well their babies sleep after the class – win, win! On a side note, those same babies often have bowel movements either during or after class because of the belly strokes. They’re clearly feeling good inside and out after their massages!
As you can see, there are a ton of benefits and reasons why you should take the time to learn about massaging your child and then do it! This is a skill that will benefit you and your child for many, many years!
If you would like to learn more about the massage services I provide, you can visit my Infant Massage Sessions page. I have private, in-home sessions, where I will come to you for the 2hr session. Or I occasionally hold local classes, where we’ll have several families come together to learn. In fact, I have a 2hr class coming up on Sunday, August 5th at 10am, where I will teach you all that you need to know about massaging your child. You can find out more about this local event by clicking here!