Babies are especially responsive to reflexology. Many mothers will instinctively rub their children’s feet and hands when their child is cranky, crying, or uncomfortable. Reflexology works very well for most babies.
Reflexology is effective and safe, it is based on the principle that reflex points found on the feet and hands correspond to specific organs, muscles, bones and body systems.
Babies’ feet have undeveloped arches, and their skin and bones are usually fairly soft making reflexology an effective and fast modality for babies. By applying gentle pressure to congested areas in the feet, blockages can be released to restore the flow of energy to the whole body.
Results for babies are often experienced immediately and can soothe a cranky baby or help to relieve tummy pains or constipation.
Reflexology with children can begin at birth and can be used as a valuable tool for parents to dissipate their children’s stresses in a nurturing way. As your baby gets older and begins walking the use of reflexology can also be combined with checking the development of the feet. Children’s feet should be checked regularly to avoid problems caused by ill-fitting shoes such as: flat feet, corns, toe deformities; as well as looking for infectious conditions such as: athlete’s foot and warts.
Reflexology is particularly beneficial for babies who have experienced a difficult birth such as forceps or ventouse. Tiny bones of the skull will have experienced great pressure as a result of the use of these instruments, and it has been found that these bones can be marginally misaligned. Reflexology can help to correct this in the gentlest of ways
You can use reflexology as a natural healing therapy for acute illnesses as well as a preventative maintenance tool for good health.
Tips for a relaxed reflexology session with your baby
- Use a gentle pressure as you would while massaging your baby.
- If a child is sick, reflex points will be quite sensitive
- If your baby pulls its foot away from you as you are working is a good indication that it is not enjoyable and that you should stop and try another approach later.
- Work no longer than 5-10 minutes for the entire treatment, depending on what your baby will comfortably tolerste.
Finding time for reflexology
Babies get wiggly and it can be hard to find a time when baby is happy to be still to have his feet played with.
For young babies you can try working on your baby:
- As part of your massage routine
- While asleep
- While feeding
- While rocking
- In a carry pouch
With older babies you can also:
- Play this little piggy went to market or round and round the garden while pressing the relevant parts of the foot. A few presses here and there and you have a reflexology workout that is a natural extension of a fun game
- During bath time
How often should you use reflexology?
- For a specific chronic problem such as reflux or eczema, once a week for three to four weeks is the best way to start out. Results can then be maintained with bimonthly or monthly treatments.
- Reflexology can also be used to maintain good general health, the routine outlined on page 17 can be used as an extension as your daily massage.
How to do reflexology
The basic formula of a reflexology treatment is simple.
- Relax and bring blood flow to the foot with a quick warm up
- Find the relevant reflex area
- Apply a technique- Experiment with different techniques and find what works for you and your baby. This is likely to change as your baby gets older.
- Continue technique application until symptoms stop or recede to an acceptable level. For more chronic conditions you can apply reflexology techniques consistently three times a day, symptoms or no symptoms. The goal is to break up the stress pattern. Over the course of several weeks, you should see improvement in any longer lasting symptoms.
These are techniques used by reflexologists mostly when working with adults. While these techniques are also valuable tools for working with babies and young children, as a parent working with your baby it’s fine to invent your own techniques. The most important thing is to stimulate the appropriate reflex area and to alternate stimulating techniques with more relaxing ones.
To improve the accessibility to specific reflex points you can use one hand to gently hold the toes back.
Use stroking and milking massage strokes on the feet at the beginning and the end of the session as well as in between the stimulating reflexology techniques. This helps to take the intensity out of the session.
You can also make up you own relaxation foot massage, the more natural it feels to you, the more relaxing it will feel to your baby.
This technique helps to consistently hit the reflex points every time and is used by reflexologists to cover larger reflex points. This is the best way to massage the intestinal reflex area.
You can practice the thumb walking technique as outlined below and or watch the instructional video that follows.
Step 1: Grasp your thumb at the second joint. Bend and unbend the first joint.
Step 2: Rest your hands on your leg. Now bend your thumb at the first joint. Unbend it. Proceed to bend and unbend your thumb, taking small steps forward with each bend and walking down your leg.
Step 3: Now rest your fingertips on the surface of the arm. The thumb rests of the under side of the arm. Holding your fingers in place, bend and unbend your thumb on your arm. As you unbend your thumb, take a small step forward. Practice “walking your thumb” in a forward direction.
Your fingers stay in place until your hand is stretched uncomfortably. Reposition the fingers and keep them in place as the thumb again “walks” forward.
Step 4: Maintaining the position of your fingers, lower your wrist slightly. Do you notice your thumb is now exerting more pressure? Now drop your wrist lower. Do you feel even more pressure?
The amount of pressure you apply is controlled by lowering or raising the wrist. Leverage is thus created by an interplay of fingertips, wrist and thumb tip.
Step 5: As you practice the thumb walking technique on your arm, try to exert a constant steady pressure. This is most easily achieved by effective use of leverage as described above.
Note: The contact of the fingernail may create a comfort problem for the person with whom you are working. Be aware of the fingernail marks you may be leaving. If you are concerned about comfort or if you have long nails, use the flat of the finger or thumb to exert pressure or use a different technique.
The hook and back technique
This technique is used to hit a particular point.
Use the four fingers for leverage on the other side of the foot and apply pressure with the outside edge of the thumb on the specific point. Then pull the thumb slightly backwards without releasing the pressure. Do not let the thumb slide off the spot. Hold the position for a few seconds and release.
The reflexology foot map
This is a map used for adults but it is exactly the same for babies, just miniturised.
Reflexology as a maintenance tool for your baby’s health
Used in this way reflexology can help your baby’s body to heal itself by detoxifying, relaxing and balancing it.
This routine can be used on a daily basis and can help to detect and even treat imbalances before your baby experiences any symptoms.
- The reflex area for solar plexus is the foot’s number one point for relaxation.
- Gently press your thumb there while holding around the foot with the rest of your hand.
- Make small circular movements until you feel a subtle “let go” from your baby, almost like an exhalation.
- Do both feet simultaneously.
- Start by the arrow on the right foot and press a little bit with your thumb. Stay a moment and try to feel the area. Are there any small irregularities just under the skin?
- Massage the area gently, and move up slowly, feeling each and every little bit of the area until you reach the end of the pink color on the left foot. It can be repeated several times if your baby doesn’t protest; this will stimulate the colon and the bowel movements.
- The kidneys belong to the eliminating system of the body; they filter the blood.
- Massaging the kidney points can be a great stress-reliever.
- Start at the top on the right foot where the kidney area is located and massage gently for a while, then move down along the ureter and end up at the side of the foot where the bladder is situated. It is not visible on the picture, but the bladder area begins exactly where the green color ends.
- Massage lightly, one foot at a time.
- You might hear a little cough when you start massaging the lung area.
- Start from the bottom of the area and work your way up.
- Massage one foot at a time.
- End your massage with the sinuses. These areas should be caressed. Put all your love into the massage and softly press on each toe.
- If your child has a cold, this could help release mucus and clear the head.
If you feel like continuing, then massage other parts of the foot. This is the time when the two of you are sharing a deeply relaxing and loving experience. It doesn’t matter so much if you do it right; what matters is that you both enjoy it.