The power of nurturing touch is not just something your baby will benefit from. Often when your baby starts to walk parents will stop massaging – feeling either their baby no longer needs to be massaged or that they are no longer interested. Both are far from the truth. Toddlers, children and indeed adults – we all do better when we have lots of positive touch in our lives.
Life for a toddler is busy – there’s always something to be doing and they begin to push boundaries as they start to explore the world around them and as a result they can prove to be a bit of a moving target when it comes to massage!
So how do you massage a toddler?
All the stokes used to massage your baby can be adapted to massage your toddler. Sometimes the massages may need to be shorter or more opportunistic. But there are certainly lots of things you can do to extend your massage time.
Getting Your Toddler Involved
Massaging your toddler is very much something you do with them, not to them. Give them some choice so they feel they are involved, eg ask ” What music shall we play?” or “Which oil shall we use?”. Don’t stick to a sequence, ask them what they would like massaged and go with the flow.
This is the time you can start benefiting from massage too! With older toddler’s, encourage them to massage you back perhaps on your hands, back or lower legs or feet. It may only last a few moments but it creates a lovely positive interaction between the two of you and you may be surprised how much of the massage techniques they have picked up when you have been massaging them!
Respect Their Boundaries.
If your toddler says no to massage, as always respect that they have declined and offer it to them at another time. If they do not want a particular part of their body massaged do not continue – just move to another part. If they begin to look bored, overstimulated or disengaged then stop and move onto something else.
Massage is meant to be an enjoyable experience for both of you. Below are some tips to keep massage with your toddler interactive, engaging and fun.
Toddlers are busy little people with very short attention spans!! If your struggling to keep massage regular, try some of these…
- Mix it up! Change location, blanket, stick coloured paper to the oil bottles, pop on some music
- Go outside – sitting on a blanket under a tree and talking about what you are seeing and hearing while you massage can be as relaxing as much for you as your toddler
- Incorporate story telling and songs into the massage – eg Make a pizza on their back or sing “Insy Winsy Spider'” or “Round and Round the Garden” .
- Add a new sensory experience to the massage to make it a fun activity rather than a massage. Use household items to add a little variety, eg a soft hair bush to massage the back, a bath mitt to massage their head or perhaps a small ball to roll over their feet – the options are endless.
In conclusion, toddler massaging can be challenging but it can also be hugely rewarding and lots of fun. Don’t give up on massage, continue to offer it regularly and make it an engaging and relaxing activity. It won’t be long and they will be presenting to you a blanket and a bottle of oil and asking -“Can I have a massage?”.