The Benefits of Foot Reflexology for Babies
If you don't already know the benefits of foot reflexology for babies, you can find all the information that you need to know right here.
Most people know about foot reflexology and the benefits it offers, especially here in Singapore where there are many great foot reflexology practitioners. However, did you know that reflexology is beneficial to babies and children as well?
A tired mum would soothe her colicky baby by gently rubbing his little foot or hand. Although this is instinctive to her, she may not know that she is not only relaxing her baby but stimulating nerve endings on his tiny foot as well. This naturally helps with the discomfort brought on by colic.
In theory, this is exactly what reflexology is about. According to Web MD, reflexology uses pressure points primarily on the soles of the feet, hands, or ears. Practitioners of reflexology believe that applying pressure to these points can affect specific organs or processes in the body.
For adults, foot reflexology is a natural and effective way of treating problems such as insomnia, chronic pain, cancer-related pain, asthma constipation and even stress.
Women use reflexology to relieve pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause symptoms. Some breastfeeding mums even use reflexology to improve the flow of breast milk.
Why foot reflexology works on babies
For babies, foot reflexology works surprisingly well because their feet, specifically the arches, are still developing. As a result, a baby's foot is very flat, soft and sensitive, making the response time to reflexology faster.
Another reason why babies respond well to reflexology is because their brains do not yet analyse things. Signals are therefore sent directly and smoothly from the nerve endings on the foot to the relevant organs.
When to use reflexology
You can use reflexology to relieve discomfort that results from colic, constipation, teething and colds, just to name a few. You can also use reflexology to calm your baby when you are travelling and when she is feeling sleepy, tired, anxious or irritable.
What is wonderful is that mums and dads can also use reflexology as a great way to bond with their baby!
You can start giving your baby reflexology massages as early as when she's a newborn. Try working on your baby when she is in her baby gym or rocker, when she is sleeping, when she is being carried in a carrier or when she is being fed.
For older babies, you can make reflexology time fun by playing games like "This little piggy" while working on the feet, and "Round and round the garden" while working on the hands.
Things to be cautious about when using foot reflexology on babies
- Warm your hands by rubbing them together before touching your baby's foot to avoid startling her.
- Because your baby's foot is soft and sensitive, do not use too much pressure. Light, gentle strokes will do. Keep this in mind especially when your child is sick since his pressure points will be more sensitive at this time.
- Remember that your baby's foot is much smaller than yours, so you have to use smaller strokes for the reflexology to be effective.
- Although a foot reflexology session takes 40 minutes to an hour for an adult, it would take only a few minutes for a baby. So, keep your reflexology sessions brief.
- How brief, you may ask? Take signs from your baby for this. If she withdraws her foot, it means she's had enough. That could even be as brief as five minutes.
Foot reflexology chart for babies
Refer to this chart when having a foot reflexology session with your baby.
Now that you know where your baby's pressure points are, there are several techniques that you can use when giving her a reflexology massage. Here are three basic techniques you can use to address various concerns your baby may have.
Place your fingers at the beginning of the arrow and move your hands gently in the direction of the arrow.
1. For relaxing and consoling an anxious baby, and for providing colic relief
How to: Place your hand beneath each of your baby's foot and let her foot relax into your palm. Place the thumb of your other hand at the pad of your baby's toe. Adding gentle pressure, glide your thumb down to the base of the big toe. Remove your thumb and repeat.
How it works: The vagus nerve which supplies a nerve pathway to the heart, stomach, lungs, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, small and large intestines and spleen lies in this area. Stimulating this area will help with normal metabolic function and digestion.
2. For soothing a tired baby, settling a restless baby and calming down a cranky baby.
How to: Like the first technique, place your baby's foot in the palm of your hand and place the thumb of your other hand at the top of your baby's toe. Now using gentle and smooth pressure, draw a wavy line down the inside of your baby's foot to her heel.
How it works: This area represents the spine which houses the central nervous system. The central nervous system conveys messages from the brain to all other parts of the body.
3. For unwinding an overstimulated baby and assisting in sleep
How to: Holding your baby's foot the same way as the other two techniques, use your other hand to wrap your baby's foot with the thumb at the bottom of the foot and the other four fingers on the top. Now using a slightly firm touch, draw a spiral in an anticlockwise direction.
How it works: This technique stimulates the nerves serving the liver, kidneys and adrenal glands.
To learn more techniques, have a look at this video that simplifies five reflexology techniques for babies.
We hope our article on foot reflexology for babies was informative and useful. If you have any points to add on this subject, please leave a comment below.
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