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30 Gentle Touch Therapies to Help a Crying Baby

When your bundle of joy is fretting or crying, you will do whatever possible to offer comfort and relief. Babies may not suffer from pains that… Simi - December 11, 2018

When your bundle of joy is fretting or crying, you will do whatever possible to offer comfort and relief. Babies may not suffer from pains that adults suffer caused by wear and tear, but they do experience a wide range of other problems. Their pains are the result of teething, digestive problems, earache, etc. In most cases, such discomfort can be relieved using the soothing touch of reflexology and acupressure. Many mothers instinctively rub their children’s feet or hands when they are cranky, crying or uncomfortable. Reflexology points are found on the feet that correspond to organs, muscles, and bones in the body. Baby reflexology is different from that of adults, in the amount of pressure applied.

Six areas of the feet are used to deal with problems in the head or teeth area, sinuses, the pelvic area, the solar plexus, and the upper or lower abdomen. Babies are especially responsive to reflexology because the ligaments and muscles in the foot are still developing. By applying gentle pressure to the feet, blockages are released, restoring the flow of energy throughout the body. If your baby pulls its foot away from you as you work on it, it’s an indication that you may be using too much pressure or that you should stop and try again later. Don’t work for longer than 5-10 minutes, depending on what your baby will comfortably tolerate. Applying reflexology makes an excellent addition to any baby’s routine and can offer relief but should not be used as a substitute for medical advice and treatment.

Reflexology for common ailments

Teething

Seeing that first tooth in your baby’s mouth is cause for excitement, but teething can be very painful for a baby and often causes restlessness and crying because the gums are sore.

For teething, there are reflexology points on either side of the little toes. You can also gently work the joints at the sides of the big toe. You may feel a little grittiness, or the baby may pull the foot away at first. Put baby in a bouncer to make it easy to massage each toe tip with a circular motion.

Nasal congestion

Blockage of the nasal passages gets caused by inflamed blood vessels in the lining of the membranes. Swelling obstructs free air flow from and puts pressure on the sinuses. Nasal congestion is common in babies and affects their eating, sleeping and even sucking on their pacifiers.

For babies experiencing nasal congestion, the best place to apply pressure is the middle area under each toe. The nose reflexology point is found outside the edge of the big toe along the line where the sole meets the skin. Gentle massage of this area can reduce soreness.

Sinus pain

A heavy cold, allergies and upper respiratory tract infections can all cause pain in the sinuses. The inflammation of the membranes lining the sinuses can cause facial pain, stuffiness, headaches and thick mucus.

Reflexology points for the sinuses are located in the centers of the baby’s toes. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently rub the left toe to relieve pain and stuffiness in the right sinus and the right toe to relieve pain and congestion in the left sinus.  As the inflammation subsides, your baby will feel less pain and be able to breathe easier.

Chest congestion

A cold can cause copious amounts of mucus that can travel down to the chest, leading to congestion in the chest. This can cause problems if left untreated, often leading to bronchitis or even pneumonia. Gentle pressure can help to relive a congested chest so baby can breathe more easily.

Congestion in the chest can be reduced by rubbing the balls of the feet which are the reflex points responsible for the lungs. Rub one foot at a time, drawing spirals from left to right. You can also step with your fingers from the top to the bottom of the area.

Constipation

Constipation is a common problem that occurs when the baby’s feces dry out and become harder to pass. Start on the baby’s right foot, with your thumb close to the heel line and near the outer edge of the foot. Work your thumb upwards from the heel to the middle of the foot. Now turn your thumb and work across the right foot to the arch.

Move over to the left foot, continuing this line across to the edge of the left foot. Now inch your thumb downwards again towards the heel on the outer edge of the left foot. This completes an upside-down U that corresponds to your baby’s colon.

Upset tummy or diarrhea

The passing of frequent, loose stools is a result of irritation or inflammation of the gut. Minor bouts of diarrhea can be left to run their course but prolonged diarrhea, particularly in babies, may be the result of a serious underlying illness and needs medical attention.  Make sure your baby has enough fluids to flush out any toxins accumulated in the body and replace what gets lost.

The reflex area related to the solar plexus where many nerves intersect — is located under the balls of the feet, right in the middle. Massaging it may help to relieve an upset tummy.  Rest both feet in your hands, put your thumbs on the right spot and move them in little circles.

Gas and bloating

If your baby is crying, arching his or her back away from you with a face scrunched in pain, these are good indicators that she may be gassy. This happens because the stomach muscles are still immature and as they develop, babies become less gassy.

The lower middle area of the foot where you find the lower half of the arch represents the lower abdomen in reflexology. Massaging this area may bring relief from discomfort caused by gas and bloating. Remember to do this gently as the area may be sensitive. You can try rubbing the area or drawing in spirals or circles.

Colic

Colic is a common problem in babies, especially in the first three months. It results from a weak digestive system. It is a condition where a normal healthy baby cries for hours without apparent cause. It must occur for more than three hours at a stretch on at least three or more days of the week, for three or more weeks to be defined as colic.

For colic, you can try a pelvic hold where your baby’s heels rest in your hands. Gently massage the heels, moving from the bottom to the top of the area. You will soon feel your baby relaxing, and the crying will stoop.

Fever

A fever is the body’s way of reacting to an attack by a bacteria or virus. Even a small change in temperature can make a baby feel unwell. You can relieve the symptoms, and it leaves it to run its course. Call the physician if your baby has a very high fever.

Some people believe that you shouldn’t do reflexology during fever as it’s a sign the body is healing itself. Others think it can help, as long as you don’t do too much. Relax both feet by holding in your hands and end with a thumb press of the solar plexus point.

Sleeplessness

Restful sleep is essential for your baby to grow and develop properly. Babies can lose sleep for many reasons, ranging from over-stimulation to aches and pains. Reflexology can be used to calm fussy babies.

Calm and soothe your baby and improve its sleep patterns by concentrate on the tops of the feet and toes, especially the big toe. Stimulating this area gently should help to relax your baby and allow him or her to fall asleep more easily.

Coughing

A sore throat, cold, flu, and congestion can invite a cough. Sometimes your baby may recover from illness but is still bothered by a nagging cough.

For frequent coughing, you will need to stimulate the reflex areas that relate to the respiratory system. On the feet, the lungs, chest and upper back correspond with a large area of the instep, just before the toes, and to the area just beneath on the ball of the foot. As you massage this area, your baby might cough a little.  Massage one foot at a time, beginning at the bottom of the area and working upwards.

Earache

Earache is a widespread problem, particularly in young children, and is usually caused by an infection. The Eustachian tube, which links the back of the nose and throat in the middle ear, can allow bacteria into this sensitive area.

Ear reflexology points are found on the last two toes of the feet, on the tips of the toes as well as in the webs between the toes. Work these areas gently to bring relief.

General restlessness

If you’ve checked out all the obvious things and your baby is still restless, the chances are that they are experiencing an energetic imbalance.

Place your baby’s foot in the palm of your hand and place the thumb of your hand at the top of the toe. Using even pressure, draw a wavy line down the inside of the foot to the heel. This area represents the spine, and the spine houses the central nervous system. This conveys messages from the brain to every other part of the body. 

Hiccups

Hiccups are a result of involuntary reflexes of the diaphragm. As babies get older, they can control the diaphragm better, and they don’t get hiccups as much. Adults may use measures such as holding their breath or downing a spoonful of peanut butter to cure hiccups, but these aren’t the solution for a baby with hiccups.

Placing your thumb at the base of your baby’s big toe on top and gliding it down stimulates the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in your body, which can help with digestion and may relieve hiccups.

Boost immunity

The philosophy of Chinese medicine emphasizes prevention, and this is why it is essential to do whatever is possible to make sure your baby’s immune system is functioning efficiently.

Apply light pressure to the perimeter of the balls of your baby’s feet to help kick the immune system into gear. This area gets linked to the thymus gland which helps release antibodies to fight illness.

Acupressure for common ailments

Acupressure is another remarkable alternative therapy that works on babies as well as adults.  Light, gentle massage in critical areas can come to your rescue and help your baby, especially if you are in a situation where you have no access to a doctor. Acupressure for adults uses intense pressure over several minutes, but babies do not need this kind of pressure. It’s too intrusive for them. Identify the acupressure points you want to use and massage them gently, in small circular motions applying very light pressure.

For babies, under three months you should only use very gentle pressure. Just a few seconds of soft pressure on an acupressure point every few hours is enough.  The power of touch is very calming for young babies, and it doesn’t need to be intense to offer some great help. Use tender loving care when massaging your child and remain focused on one pressure point rather than jumping from one point to another. It’s also important to avoid doing acupressure when your child is tired or hungry. The best time is during feeding time, at bath time or just before bedtime.  Acupressure can be done one to three times a day, but you shouldn’t spend more than 30 seconds on one point. Infant acupressure may not be that well-known, but it is effective and useful to help with common ailments.

Teething

Acupressure points to help reduce pain from teething are found on the largest area of the palms of your baby’s hands near the thumbs. Press on one or both points, gently massaging them for about 10 seconds every two hours or so. This helps to reduce the pain in the gums.

Extra saliva can cause facial and diaper rashes as well as diarrhea so even if your baby is not in too much pain from teething, applying pressure to these points will reduce the production of too much saliva caused by teething. 

Nasal congestion

Acupressure is one of the easiest ways to relieve nasal congestion in babies. The swollen tissue constricts the ability to breathe through the nose. .Just next to the most significant part of each nostril is an acupressure point that can help reduce inflammation of nasal passages.

Gently massage this area in a circular motion with your thumb and index finger while counting to 10. This should offer immediate relief by helping to address the underlying inflammation.  It’s possible to massage this point up to six times a day, spaced a few hours apart.

Sinus pain

Your baby may be crying because the sinuses are blocked, and the pressure is causing pain. Use your fingertips to apply gentle pressure to acupressure points alongside the bridge of the nose and down either side of the nose.

Follow this with long strokes of the fingertips back up. Similar pressure can also be applied along the top ridge of the cheekbone, just under the eyes to encourage mucus to flow more easily or be removed more efficiently with a nasal aspirator.

Chest congestion

When the baby’s chest is congested, he may battle to breathe. Place gentle pressure on the outer part of the chest, a little above the crease of the armpit and a little inward. This can help to get fluid moving and relieve breathing difficulties. Applying pressure to the point where the rib cage and the stomach meets can help to regulate any panicky, rapid breathing.

Constipation

An important acupressure point for treating constipation is located about an inch from the navel. Gently tap this area 10 times on each side, letting your finger wander a bit to cover an area of about an inch in diameter. Work in a clockwise direction, circling and spiraling outwards until you reach the right hip. This follows the flow of the small intestine and helps to move contents along the gut.

Make large circles around the abdomen, starting just inside the right hip. Move your flat fingers and palms up to the right side of the rib cage and across to the same point on the left side. Stroke down to just inside the left hip, and along the base of the abdomen to the right hip. Repeat several times to help shift the contents of the colon.

Upset tummy or diarrhea

As an adult, you know how distressing diarrhea can be, and it’s even worse for babies. They pass runny, mucus-filled stools, usually due to a bacterial or viral infection or sensitivity to certain foods. Diarrhea in newborns can be very serious if the baby becomes dehydrated.

You can use acupressure to relieve your baby’s distress. The pressure point is in the abdomen at the midpoint between the naval and the lowest point of the ribcage. Apply pressure slowly and do two sessions daily for some relief for baby.

Gas and bloating

Babies with gas or wind experience pain and often cry until the wind has passed. Certain acupressure points can help to relieve this. Place the palm of your hand over the bare tummy. Lean your baby forward, pressing the tense abdomen against your hand.

What will also help is to lie your baby down on the back and rub softly on the area around the belly button in a circular, clockwise motion. An abdominal massage that follows the course of the large intestine helps to move gas through the system that contributes to abdominal distension and pain. 

Colic

Sometimes babies will cry for hours without any apparent cause. Most of the time, it is probably due to colic. Acupressure can work wonders when babies have colic. The acupressure point used to relieve gas can also help to ease colic if it is caused by gas. Another point is located on the outside of the index finger, on the joint where the index finger meets the hand.

Apart from massaging these points, you can stand with one arm outstretched and place your baby on your forearm, with his head nearest to your hand and his legs straddling your upper arm. Position your free hand firmly on his back and press the heel of your lower hand into his abdomen, just below the ribs. Now bounce your outstretched hand up and down gently to relieve your baby’s stomach pain. 

Fever

There are various acupressure points to relieve fever.  To help reduce your baby’s fever, try the pressure points located at the base of their thumbnails. Use a gentle grasp of the thumbs without pinching them for about 10 seconds with a few hours in between throughout the day. Another point is located on the tips of the middle fingers.

Place the finger in between your index and middle finger and squeeze gently.  This brings down your baby’s fever more quickly than just waiting it out.

Sleeplessness

An acupressure point lies between your baby’s two eyebrows that some people even call the ‘sleep button.’ If you’re trying to soothe your baby to sleep and you’ve addressed the causes of wakefulness, such as hunger, warmth, a diaper change, etc., try this pressure point. Use a soft, stroking touch for about 10 to 20 seconds, and it will prompt your baby to relax and close his or her eyes.

You can touch this point as often as you want to with no bad side effects but your baby receives the maximum benefit after only a short time. If your baby starts waking, you can just gently touch it again. Another pressure point that helps in enhancing the release of endorphins to promote restful sleep is located on the ridge of bone between the ear and the spine, between the two joining muscles. 

Coughing

Sometimes your baby may have recovered from illness but still has a persistent cough. It may be a dry, hacking cough or a slightly croupy cough but it should respond to pressure on acupressure points. A cough suppressant point is located on the top section of the baby’s index fingers, just above the knuckles.

Don’t pinch when you apply pressure to this point – hold on to the fingers. Try to hold on for about five seconds when the baby is coughing. Baby should calm down while you hold the fingers and the frequency of coughing should also be less. You can also focus on the middle chest. Use circular motions for relief.

Earache

Excess fluid in the ears can cause a great deal of pain for babies. To help drain the fluid in the ears, knead the point just behind the earlobe and the one right in front of the ear canal for about 10-20 seconds each.

You can also do a neck massage. Apply oil or lotion and place your thumb at the base of the ear where the ear, neck, and jaw meet. Gently apply pressure in a downward motion until you feel the collarbone. Repeat for about 30 seconds.

General restlessness

Your baby’s neurovascular points are found on their forehead, just above the eyebrows. You want to use gentle pressure to increase the flow of blood to that part of the brain, which is naturally calming.

Put your thumb above one eyebrow and your index finger above the other and press gently. Make sure you’re calm yourself when doing this because your baby is affected by your stress.

Hiccups

Hiccups can be relieved quickly and effectively by pressing on various pressure points. Place your finger on the area between the top of the lip and the base of the nose. Hold pressure on this spot for about 30 seconds before releasing. This point is very effective, especially in babies.

You can also take your baby’s hand and squeeze on the surface of the fingernail of the pinky finger. Another pressure point to relieve hiccups is found between the belly button and the pubic bone. Press gently in the center of this line for a few seconds. Experiment with different points and see which one is most effective for your baby.

Boost immunity

The first two years of life are a critical period when the immune system and nervous system is maturing. Paying attention to strengthening your baby’s constitution at this time can help to minimize future illnesses.  A strong and healthy digestive tract is of prime importance.

As many of baby’s problems are related to digestion, an abdominal massage is the basis of good digestive health, which assists in creating strong immunity. Massage with medium pressure around the belly button in a counter-clockwise and then a clockwise direction. Use oil or cream to minimize the friction.

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