by Lucy Staves, Registered Reflexology Therapist
An Alternative to Baby Massage
One of the first baby classes I ever took as a new Mum was a baby massage course back home in London. I was desperate to find the perfect bedtime routine to help my newborn sleep through the night and I’d heard that baby massage would help. This was before I became a reflexology therapist, and the reality was that I spent most of the course frantically rubbing a screaming newborn who hated being stripped naked in front of a roomful of strangers. But I did learn some important things about using touch for comfort, that I now use on a daily basis.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is a holistic therapy that uses massage and gentle acupressure techniques to stimulate reflex points in the hands and feet. We believe these reflex points are linked neurologically to specific parts of the body and that touching them helps the body to relax and release tension, improves mood, and promotes easier and deeper sleep. Reflexology is suitable for people of all ages – it is a wonderfully relaxing treat for us grown-ups but it is also a gentle way to soothe and relax babies and children. It is one of the safest and least invasive complementary therapies available. It simply involves removing shoes and socks so it is something even the fussiest newborn will enjoy!
But how does Reflexology work? One theory is that when you apply pressure to the foot through Reflexology, a message is sent through the nervous system. There are over 7,000 nerve endings in each foot. When pressure is applied to a specific reflex point, a message is sent to the corresponding body part, then the brain interprets the message and takes action. Another theory is that during a Reflexology session we enter into the parasympathetic nervous system (the ‘rest and repair’ state). Endorphins are released which help with pain relief and boost our sense of wellbeing allowing homeostasis (a state of balance) to be achieved.
The Benefits of Reflexology for Babies
Reflexology is deeply relaxing for babies, but it can also help manage a host of childhood issues such as sleep problems, colic and digestive issues, and teething pain. Unlike other therapies which manipulate bone or muscle tissue, Reflexology can provide much needed relief through working the body reflex that ails your child on a part of their body that does not. When Reflexology was performed during a study on infants with colics, a decrease in colic severity was observed. Other studies have also shown Reflexology to be effective for acute pain management and may help with digestive issues in general.
Reflexology Classes at the Clinic
Learning how to confidently use touch through Reflexology provides such a unique way to show love and nurturing through physical contact, which is hugely beneficial to developing children. I use Reflexology a lot with my own children, and interestingly I have observed that many parents instinctively rub their baby’s feet when they are upset or fussy. Reflexology can provide natural relief to common childhood health issues and can be a great way to boost your child’s immune system and encourage its natural healing system by detoxifying, relaxing, and balancing the body. Reflexology can also be used with older children to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and boost their sense of wellbeing.
And yes; it can (and in my opinion should!) be used at bedtime to calm and relax your child and promote better quality of sleep.
If you’ve enjoyed reading about the benefits of Reflexology for babies and children; then I’m pleased to let you know that I’m working on some ‘Baby & Me’ Reflexology classes. These will be private classes where I will teach you simple Reflexology techniques to use on your child (or grandchild) at home to help soothe them and help boost their immune system.
Read more about Reflexology at www.reflexologycanada.org