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Massage Therapy Benefits Infants and Children

For adults these days, one way of indulging the sense is to ask someone for a massage. A massage, most of the time, will need a great amount of time from 45 to 90 minutes as well as money. However, if massage therapy is employed in our children and babies, it does not need to be costly or time-consuming. Thankfully, parents as well as caregivers can easily train themselves in massaging even the most fragile parts of a baby. The benefits reaped are really amazing; thus, even doctors and nurses are recommending the procedure.

Foremost, massage exemplifies the use of the sense of touch; the reason why it is also dubbed as touch therapy. As recognized by many, touch conveys one’s love and affection. It also communicates warmth; therefore, apart from foods and sleep, massage brings about an assurance, a sense of safety and security. The therapy may also serve as a bonding moment between the child and the parents and since it is scientifically proven, parents do not have to worry about any untoward incidents associated with the massage. Over time, the bond will certainly become stronger.

One of the prime advantages of massage suggests that premature babies and those that are exposed to cocaine gain a relative amount of weight. Additionally these babies also benefit from an enhanced motor and sensory development. Less anxiety is displayed and interestingly, Cortisol, a stress more hormone is significantly lower. In turn, the decreased levels of Cortisol results in fewer outbursts and fidgeting. Sleeplessness is therefore, less of a problem.

Through the use of stroking and kneading in specific areas of the body like the face and upper trunk, the extremities and the lower trunk; experts agree that the breathing of babies and children are also improved. This particularly applies to those suffering from asthma. Through the studies, experts as recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics are convinced that children who are massaged are able to have better facilitated breathing as compared to those who were not massaged.

Touch therapy is also an enjoyable activity where the baby or the child can be very receptive of the carer’s touch. It is said that even the immune system, as this part is still immature amongst children and babies, is also functioning better for those who experience massaging. During the course of the therapy, blood sugar and insulin levels are also greatly controlled. Accordingly, food compliance and regulation is more effective.

Another striking effect derived from massage is that it also drives away skin disorders specifically eczema. Bear in mind that the skin of our precious children are more sensitive so any non-invasive and simple procedure will surely be worth the try.

Ultimately, with massage therapy, the child-parent interaction is greatly enhanced. The carer becomes more sensible to the feelings of the child. This will prove to be a long term benefit because as the child grows and when he is ready to explore his own world, the caring touch given to him will surely be reflected in the caring ways he will share to the rest of the world.

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“I Love You” Infant Massage

Every new parent loves to bond with their newborn babies. Infant massage is a great way to bond that also helps your baby to develop and grow better.

A lot of other cultures highly value infant massage to help their babies grow. In some eastern cultures, mothers can be reprimanded if they do not give their babies daily massage.

The cranial nerve X, also known as the vagus nerve, has quite a few interesting functions including increasing peristalsis. Peristalsis are wave like contractions of the stomach and intestines that move the food materials along the digestive tract. This means that infant massage stimulates and aids in digestion. The cranial nerve X’s sensory fibers also supply the lungs. Infant massage, along with breast-feeding, is a very fulfilling form of nurturing your child. An advantage of infant massage is that Dad can perform this nurturing act. It aids in digestion, eases tension, relieves colic and spurs growth.

To help the baby’s bowels move, you can try the I Love You technique. With I L U in mind, start at the bottom right hand side of the babies abdomen. Using small, gentle circular motions, gently rub towards the top right forming the letter I. Make sure to stop when you feel the rib cage. Repeat this action then move across the abdomen, but this time immediately above the belly button towards the left hand side, forming the letter L. Repeat this action then go down to the bottom left to form the letter U. Repeat the I Love You massage between 5 and 10 times.

Many hospitals and birthing centers run courses on infant massage that you can attend during your stay. Here are a few tips on the basics of infant massage that will help you get started.

  • Make sure the room is warm and that the baby is not near a draft
  • Only perform the massage if you feel relaxed and your baby is settled, unless you are giving the massage to relieve pain
  • Make sure the baby is on a sturdy surface when performing the massage
  • Start with the legs and move up the body
  • Use long firm strokes when massaging
  • Make sure you don’t put any pressure on the babies abdomen
  • You can use cold pressed almond oil. This helps the babies skin and is easily absorbed

If you have any questions about infant massage, check with your family doctor, public health nurse, or natural health practitioner for more information.

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The Benefits of Baby Massage to the Baby

STIMULATION
One of the earliest developed functions is skin sensitivity

• In studies carried out, research has illustrated that those animals that are touched more or stroked tend to be healthier in weight, more alert and bright-eyed and are more good natured than other animals
• Massage is so therapeutic, it has been shown to improve the stability of the nervous system and resistance to disease
• Regularly massaged infants and babies tend to be more friendly and alert once they are awake
• Similarly, these babies and/or toddlers tend to be quite chatterboxes and make more attempts at conversation than babies who have not been massaged
• Massaged babies tend to be more receptive to hugs and cuddles as they grow older.

RELAXATION
After baby massage you will find that your baby will usually have a brilliant night’s sleep (which often means that so can you!)
• Massaging babies can help them to get rid of their pent up frustration and tension
• It can aid in practicing handling input and responding to it with relaxation
• Gives babies/toddlers a positive self-image of their bodies
• Provides youngsters with a good set of relaxation techniques that may aid them in later years
GENERAL WELL BEING
The close loving contact that baby massage provides, helps babies such that they succumb to illness a lot less and are not so prone to crying as babies who are not massaged.
• The act of massaging aids in improving the circulatory process as well in providing a boost for the immune system by helping to move the lymph around.
• It has been shown that massage can aid in providing colic relief and other problems related to digestion (it helps shift the gas and faecal material)
• Its therapeutic benefits are such that it can aid in relieving the pain of teething, emotional stress and
• Massage can act as a pain killer in that the act of massaging result n producing endorphins.
PHYSICAL GROWTH
Massage promotes physical self-awareness, tones muscle and makes joints more flexible. In this way it is especially beneficial to premature babies, those with low birth weight and children with special needs.

SOCIAL SKILLS
Touching teaches a baby about communication.
Massage helps to establish a non-verbal communication with babies that enhances a parent’s early relationship with their child, and therefore helps builds the baby’s self-esteem and sociability.

In a study, conducted by the Touch Research Institute of the University Of Miami School Of Medicine, massaged babies gained 47 percent more weight than unmassaged babies given the same number of calories.

Premature Infants who are regularly massaged are hospitalized an average of six fewer days than non-massaged babies. This is why massage is now used in many special care nurseries.

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The Benefits of Baby Massage to the Parent

BONDING
Baby massage provides mother and baby with the opportunity of increased eye contact
• Results in increased prolactin levels (prolactin is a hormone needed to produce breast milk, also known as the “mothering” hormone)
• Gives you the feeling of “falling in love” with your baby
• where there have been cases of abuse and neglect, baby massage has produced some positive results

DEVELOPING SENSITIVITY
When massaging your baby, you must be vigilant for signs of your baby’s reaction to your touch and particularly the pressure you apply. Babies are unable to tell you whether you are massaging them too hard!
In reading your baby’s body language and interpreting her reaction, you are acquiring some key parenting skills.

In fact, research studies have shown that mothers who had lots of early contact with their children could choose their 3 – 8 year old children’s pyjamas from a pile of others that were identical!

STRESS RELIEF
Massage has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone.
• Parents benefit greatly from giving massages to their children and studies have shown that those who carry out massage on a regular interval benefit from reduced stress levels.
• Especially for working mums and dads, being able to give your baby a massage as soon as you return home from work, provides valuable quality time with your little one – and in doing so helps you to relax and “reconnect” with them.

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