Reflexology works on the basis that parts of the foot correspond to different parts of the body and that stimulating these parts (know as zones) on the foot can release tension or help relieve pain caused by illness. According to reflexologists, energy form the point that is touched is transmitted across a network of nerves from the feet to other parts of the body to help the area heal, such as the stomach for example (great for helping colic) or teeth (perfect for teething).
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 Infants.
Infants’ feet have undeveloped arches, and their skin and bones are usually fairly soft making reflexology an effective and fast modality for young children. By applying gentle pressure to congested areas in the feet, blockages can be released to restore the flow of energy to the whole body.
This technique’s ability to be used on the move, as well as a complementary practice to be used alongside massage, has quickly allowed it to gain popularity amongst the parenting community – especially when their infant is proving difficult to soothe in a busy supermarket! Incredibly easy to learn with no need for prior preparation, only a few minutes of reflexology are required for results.
Infant reflex foot map
Always begin reflexology by rubbing your hands together to warm them before handling your baby’s feet – there is no need to use any oil when carrying out a reflexology massage. Remember, this is a special and fun time for you and your baby, so sing, talk and just relax.
Using reflexology on a daily basis can really help to heal your Infant’s body by detoxifying, relaxing and balancing it, helping detect and even treat imbalances before your infant may even experience any symptoms.
The following routine can be used every day in its entirety, or each section can be used as when you need it, even when you are on the move.
To start, support your infant’s feet with their heels in your palms. Hold the child’s feet loosely, so they can remove their feet if they start to become oversensitive. Keep your strokes soft but firm, as infants are very responsive to this touch therapy.
- Allow your infant’s foot to relax into your palm of your hand.
- Put the pad of your thumb under the big toe and with a gentle but firm pressure, glide around the base of the toe. Remove your thumb and repeat 3 – 4 times.
- After this movement, glide the pad of your thumb down to the centre of baby’s foot and make small circular movements in a clockwise motion.
This area stimulates the vagus nerve which supplies the nerve pathway to the heart, stomach, liver, pancreas, spleen, small and large intestines and gall bladder. Its function is to facilitate normal digestion and metabolism in the body, so the technique is greatly beneficial for any kind of digestive complaint. The last movement where you glide your thumb towards the centre of the foot addresses the stomach’s reflex point, which when stimulated, is excellent for maturing and toning the digestive system helping with colic, reflux and constipation.
Soothing and settling
- Rest your infant’s foot in the palm of your hand and place the thumb of your opposite hand on baby’s big toe.
- With a firm touch, glide your thumb softly along the outside of the infant’s foot ending at the heel.
- Return to the top of the big toe and repeat 4 – 5 times.
This area represents the spine, which houses the central nervous system, transmitting messages from the brain to sensory and motor nerves throughout the body. Stimulating this area calms your infant; it is an excellent reflex point to use if your baby has become over-stimulated throughout the day and needs some quiet time.
Promoting better sleeping patterns
- With your infant’s foot resting in your palm, wrap your hand gently around the foot to secure.
- With your opposite hand, use the pad of your thumb to make circular movements just under the centre of the diaphragm line.
This technique works on the solar plexus reflex point, which is a network of nerves situated just below the diaphragm; a useful area to consider when seeking to calm your child. This is an excellent technique for parents on the go, as it will release oxytocin into the infant’s system, helping them relax and settle if they become fretful when in public.
Colds and congestion
- Stimulate the sinus reflex points – this area is located up the back and sides of the toes.
- Place your finger and thumb pad on the infant’s little toe and use a squeeze-and-release pressure to break down any clogged up mucus.
- Repeat along each of the toes.
- Once you get to the big toe, increase the pressure just slightly as this reflex point corresponds to the head. This area should be caressed; put all your love into the massage and softly press on the big toe.
This technique will help release tension in an infant’s head as a result of the cold, and soothe their sinuses. These movements overall are very beneficial for infants as they are nasal breathers at birth and often become congested easily due to increased bacteria in the nasal cavity.
End your massage with the teeth reflex – this technique is important when your baby is going through its teething period. The reflex point for baby’s teeth is found on the front of the toes, below the nail.
- Securing your infant’s foot in your palm with the opposite hand, press up against each toe. After finishing each toe, rotate once in a clockwise motion and recite the song of ‘This Little Piggy Went to Market’ to your baby:
“This little piggy went to market”
“This little piggy stayed at home”
“This little piggy had a massage”
“And this little piggy had fun”
“And this little piggy went to sleep…shh.”
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.
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 minor illnesses as well as a preventative maintenance tool for good health. For more infant reflexology routines check out our video below.