All babies cry, and some cry a lot; and this can be distressing and on occasions frustrating for all concerned. Sometimes it is easy to work out why babies are crying, for example hunger, dirty nappy, wind or if they are tired, however sometimes there appears to be no apparent reason and nothing seems to soothe them.
But an unpublished study from Denmark suggests that some simple reflexology moves on the feet of your baby may help reduce those screaming fits.
There may be times of the day when your baby may seem to cry a lot and can’t be comforted. Early evening is the most common time for this to happen and this can be hard for you as it’s often the time when you’re most tired and least able to cope.
Excessive crying in an otherwise healthy baby is traditionally called colic which is relatively common in the first few months of your baby’s life. However, it is important if your baby is crying for long periods that you see your doctor or health visitor to rule out any health problems such as milk intolerance or allergies.
If your baby suffers from periods of unexplained crying, the evidence now suggests that the sooner a parent or carer responds to a crying baby the sooner it will stop. Picking a baby up and placing it on your shoulder may be enough to comfort your baby but sometimes it’s not.
The Danish study was looking at the effects of reflexology on screaming fits for babies aged between 4 and 13 weeks. Each baby received four reflexology sessions over two weeks, and reflexology proved to be significantly superior to traditional medical treatments such as colic drops. Nearly half of the babies having reflexology reduced their crying to just half an hour a day.
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a non-invasive and relaxing complementary therapy that aims to optimise both physical and emotional health. It works by massaging and stimulating specific points (usually on the feet but sometimes on the hands, face and ears) called reflex points. These points are believed to correspond to different parts of the body.
Reflexology to soothe crying babies
There are a few simple moves that you can try on your baby, try and do these moves for 5 minutes every day when your baby is calm. Reflexology for babies uses massage strokes over areas of the feet and only requires gentle pressure; lie the baby down, face up, make this a fun time with lots of smiles, or you could even sing nursery rhymes to you baby as you work on their feet.
Work on one foot at a time, use one hand to hold each foot, one at a time and the other one to make the following actions:
1. On the bottom of each foot use your thumb to make circular movements, working in a clockwise direction in the middle of foot – this mimics the direction the digestive system works in the body.
2. Repeat the same move over the heel area
3. Use your thumb to gently push up from the base of each toe, up to the very tops of the toe.
4. Place your thumb in the centre of the foot and gently press in and hold for about 10 seconds.
These moves can also be carried out in the same manner on the hands.
During a screaming fit, try picking your baby up and placing on your shoulder, use one hand to support the baby and the other hand to perform the reflexology moves described on both hands and feet.
Having a newborn baby also can take its toll on you as a parent, so why not try some reflexology yourself; it is particularly beneficial in giving you ‘me time’ after the birth of your baby and can offer many benefits to you, aiming to optimise your health, aid relaxation, de-stress and improves the quality of sleep in post-natal women.
By Sally Earlam FMAR. BSc. RN. PGCE Association of Reflexologists - Maternity Specialist