The Importance of Bonding Through Infant/Pediatric Massage

From the time we are born we are touched.  The type of touch a child receives from their parents reveals the emotional state.  Massaging children of any age is a great way to bond and create trust with your child.  It's a time of calmness, helping children de-stress from their hectic schedules, and it provides a one on one time where a child can talk to a parent or caretaker in a safe and comforting environment. 

The relationship between a parent and child is enhanced and strengthened through the nurturing touch of massage.

Infant Massage is a parent tradition within many [ancient] cultures that has been re-discovered and adapted to the western world.  Research conducted through the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine confirms the importance of a secure environment and nurturing touch in the healthy growth, development and maturation of children (Tiffany Field, Ph.D.).  Numerous other studies have also shown the many developmental benefits of positive contact as part of baby's early life.  Infant Massage is one of the most natural and pleasant methods of providing this early nurturing contact.

A relationship has been shown between skin-to-skin touch and intelligence.  The amount of tactile stimulation a baby receives in its first months of life up though the first year can impact their brain development.  Infant massage improves body awareness as the infant learns through touch how their body is constructed, and where body parts are in relationship to another.

Massage reduces an estimated 60-90% of illnesses attributed to stress, and yes, infants do get stressed just like adults.  Pediatric massage is for children between the ages of 2 and 12 and it teaches children appropriate touch and the option of refusing touch as they grow.  Pediatric massage increases self-esteem; strengthens digestion, circulatory and intestinal systems.  It deepens respiration, reduces discomfort from colic, gas, constipation, teething, congestion, sinus congestion, and can improve sleep patterns, as well as enhances neurological development.  It supports the immune system by stimulating lymph flow and increasing natural killer cells, which can positively impact children suffering from immune disorders or cancers.

Parents/caregivers report the side benefits of infant/pediatric massage are that they feel more comfortable and confident in their ability to care for their children.  Parents/caregivers learn to understand and respond to baby's cues.  Massage provides additional avenues for close and nurturing contact.  Infant Massage is one of the most natural and pleasant methods of providing this important early nurturing, and is an amazing tool for helping parents become closer to their babies; as well as assisting in understanding the differences between adult and child bodies.  For example, children have more touch receptors per square inch than adults and can be more easily over-stimulated; children's bones are also not as solid as adults.  Pediatric massage helps in understanding the child's level of psychological development; and communicates in a way that the child can process; that helps build trust. 

As a pediatric massage therapist, I always endeavor to explain massage in age-appropriate ways to assure maximum benefit.  Remember, massage for children of any age is based off of their tolerance, so it can be from 5 to 60 minutes timeframe.  It's always as the child feels they need to have the touch and pressure should always be to their liking and comfort level.  As with any new regime you wish to have with your young person, you should always consult your physician and receive the proper training.

Whether you are a parent, caregiver, aunt, uncle, grandmother or grandfather, if you find this topic interesting you can sign up for a course being held on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 from 7:00p to 8:00p, call 2bwell Clinic to reserve a spot.  Cost is $20 per person (babies/children are free).  It will cover how to achieve the maximum benefits of pediatric massage for your child, and what it can accomplish for health and concern of your youngster.  Come explore this easy, fun, and family bonding class with Nadja L. Knighte, LMT at 2bwell Clinic.  Nadja is certified in infant massage and can help you explore the many beneficial methods of strengthening your bond with your child.

Nadja Knighte, LMT / / 503-655-0044