Benefits of massage for children are fairly similar to the benefits for adults. Routine massages help children of all ages grow into balanced and well-rounded adults. We know that touch stimulates the body in positive ways and help a person with mental and physical development and growth.
Infant/ toddler massage sessions should only last for 15 minutes at the most because of their small attention spans. A child can become irritated if the massage lasts longer than the 15 minutes. You can use either baby oil or coconut oil; a substance or oil that is safe to use on the child’s skin. A general rule is if it is safe to be ingested it can be used. Infant massage should be given by a parent or guardian.
For stable premature infants massage can:
Help infants gain weight.
Cuddling and massage releases the growth hormones which help with development of the brain and other vital organs.
Massage duration should be probably still be anywhere from 15 -30 minutes.
This age group can usually tolerate a full 50-60 minute massage.
General Benefits of Massage for kids at any age:
Kids who experience hyperactivity disorders or other psychiatric issues benefit greatly from massage.
Improves sleep and mood
Stimulates motor development, eases tension and pain (highly recommended for children with Autism or Down Syndrome)
Stimulates cognitive development; increase alertness, speed, and accuracy
Decreases stress hormone levels as well as blood glucose levels. Decreasing stress gives the adrenal system a break and boosts the immune system. This is very beneficial for children with cancer. Boosting the immune system allows the body to fight off pathogens, viruses, microbes, and bacteria.
Beneficial for kids with diabetes and asthma
Improve muscle tone
Skin and arthritic conditions such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)
Children prone to bulimia find that massage helps decrease their anxiety and depression which are linked to their disease. This also can help promote self-esteem and body image when kids grow into adults.
I highly recommend the Gaiam’s Infant Massage DVD for all new parents or parents/guardians that are interested in giving their infant a massage. The DVD is an easy guide for infant massage such as what types of oil to use, helpful advice, as well as step by step visual aid on infant massage.