While you might get a massage occasionally for stress relief and relaxation, some of the same massage techniques can be used to treat a wide range of physical problems and pain. More recent research has even shown that special massage techniques for infants and small children can even help alleviate the symptoms of a much wider range of ailments and even developmental delays. Some of the conditions that have proven to be successfully treated or at least minimized include autism, asthma, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, post traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, cancer and various psychiatric problems.
A study conducted at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that massage therapy performed on infants and small children leads to lowered anxiety levels and stress hormones as well as improved clinical treatment outcomes. Another benefit of infant massage, when performed by the grandparent or parents, is that this form of therapy also improves their own wellness while being much more cost-effective than taking the child to a professional. Many pediatricians and child psychologists suggest that infant massage is incredibly important when a couple adopts a baby as it improves the natural bonding between baby and parents that can have an affect on various psychological issues.
Children who have developmental delays and conditions such as Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADHD and other sensory impairments can benefit from massage therapy in a wide variety of ways. First, when the caregiver performs massage therapy techniques on their child, this positive interaction increases the child’s comfort and helps them become more open to engaging in interaction and even improve weight gain in preterm infants. Additional benefits of infant massage for all children include: improved eye contact, muscle tone development, language development, improved digestive health, improved sleep patterns, reduce symptoms of colic and develop self-regulation.
There are various massage techniques involved in this type of therapy, some of which include kneading, circular strokes, pressure touch, long stroking motions and “milking” strokes. Because there can be situations in which the infant or small child is uncomfortable with certain massage techniques or varying degrees of pressure, it is a great idea to find a center or workshop in your area that offers classes on infant massage before you begin this type of therapy. These classes help you understand which techniques will work best for the problems your child has and also help you recognize how much pressure you should be applying and how to tell if your child is not responding in a positive way.