Reflexology is the practice of applying pressure to specific points in the feet, hands and ears to help the body achieve balance and relaxation. Many ancient cultures had a form of foot therapy, passed down from generation to generation.
Self-Care Reflexology for Children
Self-care reflexology is something parents can use on not only themselves, but their children as well. Reflexology for children can begin at birth – this gentle stimulation of the newborn’s feet or hands will help develop that important bond between parent and baby. It’s also a valuable tool for parents to help children cope with stress in a very healthy and nurturing way. You will find by giving regular reflexology sessions you are also keeping in tune with your child’s foot developments. You can check for any problems caused by ill-fitting shoes or from infectious conditions (i.e. athlete’s foot), during a short session with your child.
Gentle pressure is used for infants and children, helping with allergies, digestion (colic, upset stomach), insomnia (sleeplessness), constipation, bed wetting, teething and more. Infants have undeveloped arches therefore a fingertip touch is suitable for giving reflexology.
Trim your fingernails closely to prevent scratching sensitive skin. Wash thoroughly under the nails and use a hypo-allergenic baby lotion or oil after drying. Apply a small amount of your chosen lotion or oil to the baby’s feet. To calm a fussy child or encourage relaxation in preparation of naptime place one thumb on each foot slightly below the ball of the foot. This is the solar plexus reflex and ties into the diaphragm. Hold for 30-45 seconds. If the baby is congested or is suffering an ear ache gently squeeze the pads of the toes between your thumb and index fingers. Move down to the instep of the feet for digestive complaints – glide your thumbs from the ball of the foot down towards the heel making invisible tracts.
I Love U
While still on the bottom of the foot try the I Love U for constipation or digestive complaints. On the baby’s right foot start with your thumb close to the heel line and near the outer edge of the foot. Using small inchworm like moves work your thumb upwards from the heel to the middle of the foot, this makes the “I.” Now turn your thumb and work across the right foot from the outside edge over to the arch, when you’ve reached the end of the right foot move over to the left foot and continue this line from the arch across to the edge of the foot, this forms the “L.” To finish, use your thumb to inchworm down towards the heel along the outer edge of the left foot, ending at the heel line. You’ve completed the upside down “U” that makes up the baby’s colon.
Encourage a healthy immune system by working the lymphatic reflexes located on the top of the foot between the toes and the ankle. Working gently with your fingertips, glide from the toe necks towards the ankle. Pass over this area several times with gentle pressure of either the fingertips or your palm.
For a comforting finish reconnect with your baby using the same solar plexus hold that you started with. Watch your baby’s chest rise and fall as with each breath and enjoy the miracle of life.
You can use reflexology anytime, anywhere! When the child is older he will find reflexology a great tool for self soothing. One mother reports that her boisterous son will stop in the middle of play, remove his socks and shoes, and rub his feet. Many adults today have fond memories of a parent, grandparent or caregiver soothing aches and pains away with a gentle touch.
Reflexology with a Professional
I started working with pediatric clients shortly after opening my practice the summer of 2004. My youngest clients are hours or days old and go through toddlers, preschoolers, grade school, and adolescents. Parent-and-child sessions are common, in which we schedule a 90 minute session to accommodate mom and children up to 8 or 9 years of age. As children near puberty more developmental changes are taking place and they usually prefer their own 60 minute session. Reflexology for children can be a gentle tune-up once a month or seasonally, it can also be more goal-oriented for acute health challenges. I am familiar with most common pediatric health challenges and I also have experience working with traumatic birth injuries, cerebral palsy, processing and attention disorders, autism spectrum, mood disorders like bipolar and generalized anxiety, and sports-related traumatic brain and spinal injuries. You can schedule a discovery call to explore working together for your child’s health and wellness.
Part of this article was featured in the March 2016 issue of Pregnancy & Newborn titled “Pedi-cures.”