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Old 24th March 2010, 01:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Baby rubs

Baby rubs



by Eunice Quek


Massages are no longer just for adults. Parents are learning to add to the soothing powers of a mother's touch at special classes teaching massage techniques to use on children from as young as newborns to 12-year-olds.

Several courses offered by certified instructors have popped up around town at places ranging from private companies offering parenting services to hospitals.

Some of them include teaching children how to massage their fellow classmates, as well as having a trained instructor to massage one's child.

Massaging a baby or child encourages better weight gain and an increase in the levels of alertness and activity, health experts told LifeStyle.

Senior physiotherapist at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Ms Catherine Chua, says: 'Massage releases oxytocin, a hormone which reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure and encourages weight gain and wound-healing.'

One instructor offering courses catering to parents of kids from newborns to children aged nine is Ms Linda Tan, director of Inspire Mum & Baby, a family well-being centre which has five outlets, with its main branch in Katong Mall.

A massage therapist by profession, Ms Tan, in her mid-30s, started the company three years ago with massage programmes for adults already in place.

But the baby-massage trend has only recently caught on, since 'more people are aware of it', she says, adding: 'There's more publicity and workshops available. Even hospitals have also started to incorporate such programmes.'

Two such hospitals are Mount Alvernia Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital, where physiotherapists teach parents how to massage their children, in the belief that it helps to solidify the bond between parent and child regardless of the child's age.

KK's Ms Chua encourages massaging to continue 'from womb to tomb... once a day if possible'.

She explains: 'When a mother strokes her abdomen during pregnancy, she is initiating a massage. Through the years, people have come up with different terms for different massage techniques. These have been passed through generations and are now being formally imparted through training.'

Specialised massages include 'chest percussion', which eases chest congestion by having the parent clap their hand on their child's back or chest quickly and rhythmically.

Parents are urged to learn such baby massage techniques so that they can rub their child with the 'correct pressure and rate of percussion', says Ms Carol Remedios, a senior physiotherapist at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

As for prices, a group session at Mount Alvernia Hospital costs $32.10 and lasts 45 minutes. Over at Inspire Mum & Baby, it costs $300 for a total of three private sessions lasting one hour each.

One mum who preferred to have the private attention of an instructor is preschool teacher Sabrina Chew, 31, who paid $275 for three sessions from certified infant massage instructor Gloria Wong.

Ms Wong is the founder of Tender Loving Touch, a massage company that runs infant massage workshops and a Massage In Schools programme for children aged four to 12.

Ms Chew, who has been massaging her two-month-old daughter daily for the past month, says: 'Ms Wong demonstrated the techniques on a dummy and I would follow suit on my child. Having the lessons one-to-one is better as I'm afraid I would not benefit from group lessons outside.'

On the Massage In Schools programme, Ms Wong says: 'Just like adults, children face stress as well. In the programme, children are encouraged to massage one another and they learn how to help their friends calm down.'

One childcare centre that uses the programme is the Preschool for Multiple Intelligences located at 37 Newton Road.

Its founder and director, Dr Khoo Kim Choo, started the programme last year.

Pairing children based on gender and height to massage each other over a period of five months, she noticed that it helped them to be more focused. She says: 'Children who tend to be more rough became less so. Those who did not like touching others became more comfortable after some coaxing.'

Another option for busy parents who want their young ones to experience the soothing effects of a massage is Baby Spa in Northpoint Mall. It specialises in massage and swimming facilities for babies. There are two smaller outlets in Plaza Singapura and HarbourFront Centre.

Wearing inflatable plastic neck floats, babies enjoy a half-hour swim in a 'pool' the size of a jacuzzi under the supervision of their parents and staff. The water is kept at a comfortable temperature of 35 or 36 deg C. The 'water babies' are then given massages for another 30 minutes by trained staff.

Baby Spa's business development manager, Mr Jason Luke, 43, says the concept of having a massage after a swim is to 'release the tension' in the arms and legs of the child.

After going to Baby Spa for four months, Ms Masliza Ismail, 34, says her six-month-old son Danial Hariz Rizal's swimming, breathing and bowel movements have improved.

'His motor skills have also improved as the staff show flashcards to the children when they are in the water, to help stimulate the brain.'

Intrigued by how baby massage and swimming could help stimulate a child's growth, marketing executive Jessica Chan, 29, has kicked off the bonding process.

She is expecting a baby boy next month and has already started massaging her stomach. She says: 'I'll definitely continue massaging my son when he is born. Nothing comforts a child better than a mother's touch.'

Source: http://www.divaasia.com/article/8131

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