The power of nurturing touch is not just something your baby will benefit from. Often when an infant starts to walk parents will stop massaging - feeling either their infant 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 - they begin to push their boundaries as they start to explore the world around them and their emerging autonomy. 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?". Perhaps you could ask them what they would like massaged, eg head or legs.
For an older toddler - you could encourage them to massage your hands or perhaps your back. It may only last a few moments but it creates a lovely positive interaction between the two of you.
Respect Their Boundaries.
If your toddler says no to massage - 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.
Make It Engaging.
One of the keys to successful toddler massage is to make it interactive, engaging and fun.
Toddlers are busy little people with very short attention spans!!
Try some of these
- don't always massage in the same room - mix it up a bit
- 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 - can't get much better then some of the classics, eg "Insy Winsy Spider'" or "Round and Round the Garden" but also let your imagination take you and your toddler somewhere special together.
- 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.
It is without question that massaging a toddler can be challenging - but it can also be hugely rewarding and lots of fun. Make it an engaging and relaxing activity and 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?"!!!!