SPA LIVING

FOR HEALTH

A Step By Step MASSAGE FOR CHILDREN

Massage for children is beneficial for both you and your child. In fact we know this intuitively. Think about the last time your child was sad, you probably rubbed your hand up and down their back to comfort them.

Massage for children has the following benefits;

body awareness massage for children awakens the child to their whole body from the top of their head to the tips of their fingers and toes. It can also assist in releiving any growing pains in older children.

healthy nervous system massage helps build the connectors that create a healthy nervous system which is linked to improved sleep and alertness.

bonding massage is a special time of peace and calm and an opportunity to focus wholly on one child. Endorphins (feel good hormones) are released and help the body relax.

digestion massage for children can aid digestion and constipation can be relieved. When we massage the stomach we always move in a clockwise direction beginning at the right hip. This way we work with the natural direction of digestion.

Precautions

There are times when massage for children is not appropriate.

Do not massage if your child...

Is ill, has a fever or high temperature

Has recently been immunized

Has an infectious skin condition, an open or sutured wound, eczema, rash or inflamed skin

Has a broken bone or sprain

Has epilepsy, thrombosis, heart complications, cancer, immuno-suppressed illness etc - seek the advice of your medical practitioner

Never attempt to massage your child if they are hungry, thirsty or over tired.

When is the best time for massage?

Use your judgement and intuition to decide when is the best time for you and your family. Flexibility, considering your family's routine and listening to your child will help you establish a time that suits everyone.

You might consider including massage for children into the evening routine for example; bath, story, massage then bed.

Which oils should I use?

I personally like cold pressed vegetable oils and preferably organic as it is perfectly suited to massage for children. Almond, Avocado, Jojoba or Macadamia (my favorite) are all great choices. If you or your child has a nut allergy try Hemp or Apricot Kernel oil. I love the oils at Mountain Rose Herbs because I know they are not going to be synthetic or have any pesticides in them.

See Mountain Rose Herbs website for a great range of organic oils

Just the oil alone is preferable to a scented oil for massage for children. If you wish to add fragrance ensure they are pure essential oils and seek advice from a qualified aromatherapist. Some essential oils can be dangerous especially to a small child. Instead of adding essential oils to the base oil, use a vaporizer. Everyone in the house will benefit!

Preparation

Create a serene and comfortable atmosphere for massage for children

Choose an area away from noise, TV, radio or phones that is warm and free from drafts

Let your family know when massage time is and ask for their co-operation

Put on relaxation music if you like or just enjoy the quiet

Burn or vaporize some essential oils

Have warm hands

A little side note: Although this creates a lovely space, all the child really needs is your touch, gently stroking them as you watch TV is much better than stressing yourself about having everything perfect and rushing through a massage. Just increasing the amount of time you spend cuddling and caressing your child is great for everyone involved! Massage for children won't always be a success. No different to any other part of life with kids!

Gather what you will need

Towels, oil, extra pillows

Take a minute to calm yourself

Sit comfortably and if you wish close your eyes.

Breathe in and with your out breath let go of any tension from the day.

Feel a warm light travelling over you, starting at your head and down to your toes.

Bring your awareness to your heart centre and feel your heart fill with love for your child, your family and yourself.

Let this feeling of love radiate out along your arms, into your hands and out through your fingers, then through your torso, down your legs and into the ground.

In this space of love and light you are ready to begin.

Let's begin the massage

With massage for children it is always best to start with short sessions and slowly build up.

Always ask your child for permission first. Explain what massage is and how they wll feel after it. If they say no, don't push the point, just try another time. My daughter, Charli, loves a cuddle but very often says no to a massage!

The amount of pressure you use for massage for children will depend on the age of your child;

For infant massage, no more than what you would exert pressing your own eye.

For older children it will vary, never more than 1/2 the pressure you would use on an adult. If in doubt, err on the lighter side.

Back

Your child will lie on their tummy with their head turned to one side.

Beginning with your hands together (fingers also together) resting in the centre of the back, stroke up to the shoulders then down to the lower back in a love heart shape.

Repeat 3 times

Tip Keep your hands relaxed

Starting the love heart stroke again continue past the lower back and down each leg (One hand down each leg).

Repeat 3 times

Beginning up near the neck 'paddle stroke (each hand follows the other as if were patting a cat to get it to purr) down the back to the top of the buttocks, starting at one side of the back and moving across to the other side.

Child with arms at their side, begin with one hand on the lower back, in long flowing strokes, massage up to and over one shoulder and continue down the arm over the fingers.

Repeat 3 times on each side, on the final stroke massage each finger.

Child with arms at right angles to their body, repeat the same stroke.

Repeat 3 times on each side.

Make circles over the buttocks, moving from the centre of the buttocks outwards, use your thumbs and massage both sides at the same time. Be gentle or you'll end up with a giggly child!

Repeat 3 times

Paddle stroke down the legs. Begin close to the buttocks and massage first the outer, middle then inner of each leg.

Begin at the feet and stroke up the body in a light sweeping stroke. Do the same starting at the head, including the arms and finish over the feet.

Gently use your thumb and massage over the foot and toes using circle motions.

Face

A face massage is heaven to me, however my children don't really think so, they get a bit wriggly and giggly. Your child may be different or a baby - babies love it, massage is great for cradle cap!

Using the tips of the fingers, gently knead through the scalp. If your child has cradle cap use oil to nourish the skin and help remove the crustiness. Move your fingers all over the skull from the forehead to the base of the head.

Using your pointer fingers draw small circles starting at the middle of the forehead and out towards the temples. Continue small circles down to the jaw bone. Follow jaw line to the chin. Using your thumbs draw a smile up under the mouth and then draw circles in the cheeks. Move to the ears and gently caress them.

Finish with a stroke over the top of the head, down over the ears and finishing on the shoulders.

Front

Child lying on back

Beginning at the top of the head, stroke down the sides of the body, including the arms, legs and feet.

Repeat 3 times

From the centre of the chest, stroke up to the shoulders.

Repeat 3 times

Move to the arms; massage down the arms, paddle stroke (remember, one hand after another like patting a cat to get it to purr) first then follow with a kneading motion. Finish with a gentle massage of the palm and fingers of each hand.

Move to the stomach massage. You must use very light pressure. Starting at one side of the tummy stroke across the abdomen alternating the hands. Circle over the tummy in a clock wise direction 3 times.

'Paddle stroke' down the legs. Begin close to the top of the leg and massage first the outer, middle then inner of each leg. Continue down over the top of each foot.

To finish the massage repeat the sweeping stroke used at the start of the front of body massage.

That's it! The more you do it the sooner it will become second nature. Remember to keep the massage short to begin with a slowly build up the time.

I think one of the most woderful benefits of massage for children is that it builds acceptance and awareness of their body. Children sometimes get a sense that certain areas of their bodies are dirty or wrong, often this is from our own body issues. In that light, I think it is really important when we get to an area such as the buttocks we don't rush over it or make a big deal of it. Just treat it like any other part of the body and make no fuss about it. This way we are giving them a strong message of acceptance and self love.

I hope you embrace massaging your children and that it brings even more love and bliss into your lives.