Reflexology is a beautiful therapy to enhance nurturing relationships with your little one, developing a sense of security and attachment. You can introduce reflexology to your child at any stage and enjoy the immediate benefits. Reflexology is a safe and effective therapy to use with babies and children, encouraging health and wellbeing, promoting bonding and comforting, soothing digestive complaints, and boosting the immune system. It can be used anywhere and at any time of the day or become part of the bedtime routine encouraging a restful sleep.
So what is Reflexology?
Reflexology is the application of touch and massage to areas of the feet or hands that correspond to specific areas of the body, which are mapped out on the hands and feet. There are many forms of reflexology with varying styles and pressure, but the pressure applied on babies and children should always be very gentle. Gentle touch Reflexology developed by Sue Ricks of ‘Sue Ricks Clinic & School of Complementary Therapies UK’, is a gentle reflexology therapy suitable for babies and children…
A brief history of Reflexology
Reflexology has been around for thousands of years. It dates back to ancient cultures and had been practised by American-Indians, Chinese and other Asian countries and by African tribes. Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American Ear, Nose and Throat (?) (ENT) surgeon who developed the theory of the link between reflex zones in the feet and hands with corresponding areas and organs of the body, introduced reflexology to the West in the early 20th century. Dr Fitzgerald’s fellow American – Eunice Ingham, a physiotherapist, went on to refine and develop zone therapy.
In 1938, she published her first book: “Stories the Feet Can Tell“, which very quickly spread the word about the benefits of Reflexology. Eunice travelled the world attending health seminars where she spoke with medical practitioners about her therapy.
Reflexology finally arrived in Europe, including mainland Britain, in the 1960s and in Ireland in the 1980s. It is rapidly growing in popularity in Ireland and is becoming firmly established as an effective and gentle complementary therapy, which can be practised on persons of all age groups, even newborn babies!
There is much research out there supporting how ‘positive touch’ and ‘tactile stimulation’ promote your baby’s brain development, and the strong nurturing bond between parent and baby. In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. Dr. Dacher Keltner from the UC Berkeley Department of Psychology, USA, notes that the research is suggesting that “touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health. The benefits start from the moment we’re born”.
A review of research, conducted by Dr. Tiffany Field, a leader in the field of touch, found that preterm newborns who received just three 15-minute sessions of touch therapy each day, for 5-10 days, gained 47% more weight than premature infants who had received standard medical treatment. According to Dr Tiffany Field, Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, School of Medicine, “a massage before bedtime is more effective than rocking at helping your baby fall asleep and stay asleep.” The beauty and joy of reflexology is that it is one way to introduce positive and appropriate touch to children to enjoy as they grow up.
Sue Ricks (2009) explains how some children are deprived of touch and this can be attributed to the fact that many adults are too busy or too stressed to relax, or they may find it difficult to offer cuddles, hugs and mini-massages as they were not used to it themselves. Reflexology is a way to introduce positive touch and is a simple therapy for parents and caregivers to learn, which they can then give to their own loved ones.
Reflexology for babies and children
The beauty of reflexology is that it ‘grows’ with your child. You can start reflexology from birth and your child can enjoy it for years to come. In fact often a child as young as one or two will present their feet and ask you to ‘do my feet’. When your child gets older, they simply adore this undisturbed one to one time with you. While doing feet or hands, you are in a great position to chat about the day with your child if you wish, or they can simple close their eyes and RELAX!
Reflexology can improve bonding between parents and babies, aids restful sleep and boosts the immune system. In particular, reflexology provides a drug free approach to ease complaints such as:
- Nasal congestion;
- Eye and ear complaints;
- Restlessness and sleep issues.
Children (including teenagers!)
Reflexology promotes communication and relationships between a parent and their child. It promotes rest and relaxation, improves concentration, self-confidence and self-esteem and combats complaints such as:
- ‘Tummy’ aches, constipation;
- Eye, ear and throat congestion;
- Sleep disturbances ;
- Behavioural problems.
Babies and children can be taken to a reflexologist for a treatment, or a series of treatments and/or parents/caregivers can learn this beautiful therapy in simple terms to give to their own loved ones.
As featured in the Limerick Chronicle 22nd November 2016