Lots of parents love getting massage therapy as a way of pampering and relieving the stress they encounter daily. But kids are just as prone to experiencing stress, which is why they also need to get massaged every now and then. And moms and dads are the perfect people to give them those massages!
What is massage therapy?
The Northwestern Health Sciences University describes massage therapy as the “manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being.” It has two main types, namely rehabilitative massage, which is commonly practiced in clinics and hospitals, and relaxation massage, which is practiced in spas and wellness centers.
How massage therapy helps kids
Aside from being a great bonding opportunity for parents and their children, receiving a massage can also be a way to relieve a child’s stress, stimulate her cognitive development, help improve her motor skills, and even increase her energy and concentration.
Massage helps regulate stress
Nationwide Children’s Hospital says that massage has been proven to increase the hormone dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction and to decrease the hormone cortisol, which is related to feelings of stress and fear. When kids receive a gentle massage, the stress and anxiety they may be feeling due to school, peers, and other factors are regulated.
Even brief strokes can be incredibly helpful for kids, especially babies who need to undergo medical procedures. A study found that gently stroking your little one can actually help reduce pain-related brain activity.
Massage can make a child feel better
Because kids can feel calmer after a massage, you can also expect their mood to become significantly better. It eases the tension, making them feel a lot more energetic and generally happier.
Massage can stimulate a baby's motor development
Massage can improve a child’s overall health
Aside from contributing to a healthier immune system, massage therapy also helps lower blood glucose levels and enhance pulmonary functions. Massages may help stimulate the nervous systems, and for babies born prematurely, massages can also help release hormones that cause weight gain as well as aid in the development of their organs, including the brain.
Regularly receiving massage can also help improve your child’s performance when he eventually goes to school. Studies have shown that preschool-aged kids did better on tests after getting a 15-minute massage and generally received higher behavior ratings compared to other kids.
Massage therapy is a simple way to bond and express love
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls massage an invaluable way for a parent to keep connected with their kids. Touch is also a common way through which people express their love and affection, making it a precious opportunity to show your little one just how much you treasure him.
How to give baby massage
To make sure your child benefits from massage therapy, why not try making it a part of your daily habit? Don't do a massage for baby when he's sleepy or immediately after feeding. A baby needs to be in an alert state for baby massage. According to the Touch Research Institute, 15- to 20-minute sessions can be enough. Try not to take longer since exte it can cause your child to become overstimulated or possibly even uncomfortable.
Experts also say that exposing children to massage therapy can help them as he grows, especially if it is established into his routine. Even when he becomes an adolescent, giving him a massage will not only help him handle anxiety and stress better but can also increase his feelings of self-acceptance and confidence in himself.
Here's our baby massage how-to video: