Massage is amazing for all babies and kids, but for those with special needs, it can be a crucial form of therapy. Touch is just as important as food, exercise, and proper care are for a child's health and well-being. One of the oldest and most popular forms of touch therapy is massage. Pediatric massage is a complementary treatment that can help improve the overall health and well-being of infants, children, and adolescents.

According to Tiffany Field, Ph.D., professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine and the director of Touch Research Institute, massage causes a chain reaction in the baby's brain. The feel-good chemical serotonin is produced while the stress hormone cortisol is reduced. As a result, the baby's breathing and heart rate slows down, causing them to settle and relax.

Massage for children can offer many physical and emotional benefits, muscular relaxation, and increased mobility. A good massage for kids can also:

  • Reduce stress hormones
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Improve sleep
  • Restore balance in the body
  • Reduce aggression
  • Lessen pain
  • Improve attention span
  • Improve motor tone

Massage for Children with Special Needs

Massage helps children with special needs in so many ways,  improving their physical, mental, social, and emotional lives. Children with disabilities respond positively to massage therapy because it soothes and calms them. Regular massage for kids with special needs also:

Helps with sensitivity

Massage can help desensitize the skin in tactile-defensive children.

Fosters calmness

A good massage helps hyperactive children by calming them down, encouraging stillness, and improving concentration.

Develops physical awareness

Massage is a great way to teach kids about their bodies and help them notice how they are feeling. When they learn more about body parts, it can also help them with movement and coordination.

Enhances relaxation

A therapeutic touch relieves anxiety and fatigue while improving children's sleep and energy levels.

Deepens bonding

A gentle, relaxing massage s a wonderful non-verbal approach for expressing care, kindness, and compassion while deepening the bond between a child and a parent or caregiver.

Inspires creativity

Regular massage can help develop a child's way of thinking, leading to unlocking their creative abilities.

Massage for Children with Autism

Every day, children with autism can encounter high stress and anxiety. Touch sensitivity can be a critical concern for parents of a child with autism or with sensory processing disorder.

Baby and child massage can induce relaxation, relieve stress, and soothe muscular spasms in children with autism. It may also help a child grow more attuned to tactile stimuli, enhance physical awareness, and foster socially connected behavior.

Some kids with autism are very sensitive to touch, which can make them dislike massages. If a child resists, it is vital to respect their boundaries. However, it is still possible to give them a massage with gentle persistence. Firm pressure may sometimes work better than mild touch. Massage devices such as the Kahlmi massage wand can also help as it provides the sensory input with vibration that kids need.

Massage for Children with Cerebral Palsy

High muscular tone or spasticity is one of the most prevalent symptoms of cerebral palsy (CP). If not properly managed, the muscles can increasingly tighten until they are locked in one position, severely restricting mobility and movement.

Massage therapy can help relax tense muscles by physically stretching muscle fibers that have become short. Massage reduces muscle tone and improves range of motion, motor control, and flexibility.

Massage also energizes the pressure receptors in the brain, creating a calm feeling. It also improves children's attention and focus. Children with CP also suffer from digestive and circulation problems due to immobility. Regular massage can aid in digestion and help to relieve constipation.

Massage for Children with Down Syndrome

Kids with down syndrome (DS) experience mild to moderate language, memory, and cognitive difficulties. They have low muscle tone as well as problems with posture and mobility.

Massage therapy may help young children with DS improve their muscle tone, motor development, and visual function. It also helps to boost brain development by increasing blood flow and muscle activity. Massage stimulates the proprioceptive nervous system. A firm touch combined with rhythmically predictable motions can assist in calming a child with DS. Slow pressure motions can also help them independently regulate their breathing and heart rate.

Massage for Children with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition that causes excessive exocrine gland secretion. It primarily affects the respiratory system, making breathing difficult. Children with cystic fibrosis are also susceptible to infection and inflammation, which may lead to serious respiratory complications.

Regular massage can help make breathing easier, particularly if it focuses on muscles related to respiration. Since CF makes breathing hard and uncomfortable, releasing myofascial tension in the rib cage can help a lot. It loosens up the muscles around the sternum, making breathing easier. A fitness program that combines cardiovascular exercise with regular massage therapy can help with CF treatment.

Massage tools like a vibration device can help clear out clogs in the airways and exocrine ducts.

Massage for Children with Motor Delays

Kids who have not been able to do age-appropriate coordinating actions like crawling, rolling, sitting, and walking are characterized as delayed. Physical therapy as early as infancy is encouraged by most pediatricians to help newborns and kids with gross motor deficits to grow optimally.

Delays in motor skills can be a sign that a child will have trouble with language later. Because a child's capacity to communicate is closely tied to how their fingers move, stimulating them may help them develop speech abilities. Subtle finger motions generate neuronal impulses that extend to the speech zone and increase its activity. Massaging the hands of a child with gross motor delay can also calm them down.

Massage should be done regularly, preferably twice a day.

Baby Massage is the Language of Love

Massaging children is a sign of love and affection. It not only benefits their overall health and wellness, but it is also a delightful way to spend quality time with them.

Dr. Donna Kleyman, Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Pediatric Massage Therapist, has seen the amazing benefit of massage for bonding and connection with the parent or caregiver.

“As an early childhood clinician, I appreciate the boost that the Kahlmi has given many of my families to confidently incorporate massage on their own while at home between visits or traveling.”

While massaging with hands is great, massage tools like Kahlmi massage wand enhance the experience. The soothing touch of a parent and the vibrations of Kahlmi make for a natural and deeply soothing massage session. The Kahlmi helps facilitate this bonding through massage and brings families closer, especially with children who may otherwise have difficulty expressing themselves.

To start your baby massage journey, order the award-winning, pediatrician recommended Kahlmi massage wand today.