Providing gentle massage to my children is one of the great joys I have ever experienced as a mother. Ever since they were a baby, I try to give them short but gentle message, not only to relax their muscle, but as a great bonding moment with my baby as well. I didn't take up any infant massage lessons, though. It was just a simple gentle, soothing touch that maybe came out naturally as a "loving" mother. Even until now that they are a little older, I still usually spend time giving them my T.L.C. or "tender loving caress", that's a soothing, sometimes tickling (according to them!), massage with lots of hugs and kisses and "I love yous", at night before putting them to sleep.
As the long history of massage shows, there are many wonderful physical and emotional benefits an infant (and pediatric) massage can give to both child and parents. Not only can a massage be a relaxing, bonding time for us (parents) and our little one, studies have shown that a nurturing touch also promotes physiological, neurological, and psychological development. Even children with cerebral palsy, cancer and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can benefit from this "touch therapy". According to "Gentle Hands: A Step-by-Step Guide to Giving Healthy Massage to Children", some of the many benefits of infant and baby massage include:
- Promotes bonding between parent (caregiver) and child;
- Relieves discomfort from common childhood ailments such as:
- Cradle Cap
- Emotional Stress/Trauma
- Sleeping Problems
- Speeds up the growth rate of the brain and nervous systems;
- Enhances neurological development;
- Improves sleeping patterns;
- Stimulates and aids in digestion;
- Promotes infant's body awareness;
- Stimulates muscle tone and growth;
- Stimulates and builds the immune system;
- Increases circulation;
- Builds confidence in the parents;
- Assists with motor coordination and balance;
- Provides quality time between parent and child;
- Provides a great bonding time for Dad and baby;
- Builds trust and respect between parent and child;
- Creates greater awareness in parents about the health of their baby, and
- Parent becomes more aware of what child requires and how to settle an upset child with greater ease.
According to Tina Allen, international infant massage educator and founder of Liddle Kidz, "These simple, loving actions of sharing your connection through nurturing touch create impacts that last a lifetime." True enough for me, I still remember how my father massaged me when I was still a little child. Those were fun bonding moments that I could never forget even until now that I am a parent, myself, that is why I pass it on to my children now as well.
Aside from the health benefits a caring touch can give, for our family, not only it becomes another bonding opportunity between me (or sometimes my husband) and our children, but it becomes a fun time sharing our tickles and giggles, too, and more importantly, it opens the opportunity for "magic moments", that I want to seize because these do not happen all the time.