Massage isn’t just limited to adults. Children can benefit greatly from receiving massages, and this is true from infancy and throughout all their lives. It’s beneficial for their sense of self and knowing their body, for knowing and learning to express what they like and dislike. It bonds parents and infant in a loving way and touch fulfils a very basic need that we all have.
It doesn’t take much to massage a child or infant. Just your hands and perhaps some natural oil without any additives. Any oil you’d eat can be used. I personally prefer safflower, almond or jojoba oil for massage. Do not add any essential oils to the massage oil unless you know aromatherapy. Children have much more delicate systems than adults and what might be good for us can cause them discomfort or harm.
As a rule of thumb, be gentle when you massage an infant. Let it be a soft touch and not a massage as you know it from yourself. As the child grows older and their muscles and bones are developed, deeper massage strokes can be utilized.
Always listen to what the child says. If it hurts or tickles, ease the pressure instantly and make sure you actively communicate with the child about what you’re doing. Always heed their feelings and err on the side of caution. Especially with very small children, their bones are not yet fully developed and no stronger than we can break them if we press too hard.
Studies done on school children shows how children benefit from learning to massage each other. They gain greater respect for their classmates and learn to say stop when something is uncomfortable. Some schools in Sweden has implemented massage and bodywork as part of the schedule, and the children thrive.
If you want to learn how to give your child(ren) a good massage, please don’t hesitate to attend one of the infant massage classes which can be found practically everywhere. Often the course is a workshop lasting a day or week-end.
It is a pleasure to massage your child, and as they become more independent, they’ll begin to demand massages from you. My four year old requests foot massages practically every day when we sit together in the sofa. It’s a great way to spend some time together and talk about the day.