7 Benefits of Shiatsu Massage for Babies

Do you know the benefits of shiatsu massage for babies? We'll tell you how this massage goes beyond bonding between parents and children.
7 Benefits of Shiatsu Massage for Babies
Marcela Alejandra Caffulli

Reviewed and approved by the pediatrician Marcela Alejandra Caffulli.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

What’s better than massaging your baby? Perhaps you don’t know all the benefits of this simple act of love, done with your hands in order to establish the maximum affection in each step. That’s why today at You Are Mom, we want to talk about the benefits of shiatsu massage for babies.

In addition, we’ll give you some basic tips and tricks for you to enjoy this wonderful process. It’s a perfect practice to strengthen the bond between parents and children. Let’s start!

Shiatsu massage for babies

Shiatsu is a type of massage that has its origins in oriental medicine, based on the popular belief that the body has 12 meridians or points where all the energy that’s connected to different parts converges. In this sense, it’s a method of acupressure that could help little ones in different aspects, besides reinforcing the bond of love.

This massage has been applied for centuries with softness and gentleness, enjoying every moment. In this sense, generations of the past have used it as an instrument of physical and psychological well-being for their little ones.

Previous considerations before the application

The book Baby Shiatsu: Gentle Touch to Help your Baby Thrive by psychotherapist Karin Kalbantner-Wernick and journalist Tina Haase explains, in four parts, each type of exercise and its effects on our little ones. In addition, she also offers songs and rhymes that create the perfect atmosphere while you are in this moment.

Following her advice, the first thing to do is to observe your little one. If you see that they’re tired, listless, feverish, or have had a vaccination, the best thing to do is not to try. It’s possible that some children don’t feel comfortable with this practice, and it’s important to wait until they’re calm and predisposed.

Once the baby is ready, put comfortable clothes on them (preferably a cotton onesie) and find a quiet place in the house, warm your hands a little at the right temperature so that your child doesn’t reject your touch, and don’t use scented candles or oils of any kind. When all this is ready, place your hands on the affected area and gently apply a little pressure to redirect the energy.

A baby getting a Shiatsu massage.

7 Benefits of shiatsu massage for babies

The benefits of shiatsu for babies can be varied, as has been found by research conducted at the University of Trujillo. Therefore, we’ll present you with some that you’ll find especially interesting. How do massages work on little ones and how can they help them in their development?

1. It helps babies to feel calm

As happens with adults, massage serves to relax and calm little ones. The calmness they’ll receive with this exercise will be perfect to relieve anxiety, but it’s also a great alternative to stimulate their central nervous system. Therefore, shiatsu also serves to improve concentration, being an ideal tool to combat nervous disorders or hyperactivity by helping to reduce stress.

To achieve this purpose and relax the muscles, follow the steps below:

  • First, gently lay your baby on their tummy and slowly massage their back with both hands.
  • Try to start from the shoulders, with slow and gentle movements towards the hips.
  • Also, keep in mind that your hands should be very close and slightly overlapping each other.

2. Promotes balance and touch

With massages, you’ll manage to boost the development of the senses, neural connections, and therefore, psychomotor skills. That is why they’re a perfect alternative to improve balance and develop the sense of touch, two very useful aspects when the child wants to start sitting, crawling, or even walking.

In addition, this also improves muscle tone and blood flow.

3. Strengthens the relationship of trust

As we’ve already mentioned above, since shiatsu massage can be learned at home in a comfortable home environment, gentle caresses in combination with these factors will provide the child a sense of relaxation that will invite them to value this moment with you.

This reinforces the feeling of protection and fosters the relationship of trust between parents and their baby.

4. Relieves some respiratory health problems

Although it’s not a definitive solution, the truth is that shiatsu massage is also a technique that can help relieve some respiratory health problems related to allergies or asthma (even colds).

In this sense, as it’s a massage that promotes relaxation in the child, it’s possible to regulate their breathing as they calm down. Of course, remember that this tool doesn’t replace medical treatment and should be consulted beforehand with a trusted pediatrician.

5. It acts against sleep problems, one of the most useful benefits of shiatsu massage for babies

Along the same lines, it’s proven that this type of massage helps the child to be able to sleep more hours without interruptions. It’s especially recommended in the case of babies who suffer from difficult and painful teething.

A happy baby getting a massage.

6. Helps digestion

If you’re dealing with constipation and painful stomach cramps, lay the baby on their back, take one leg, and lift it up. Then, with the fingers of the other hand massage from the buttocks to the ankle up to five times and repeat with the other leg, from the buttocks to the ankle. Repeat five times, then switch to the other leg.

On the other hand, if you want to relax the stomach and stimulate the appetite, try to lay the baby face up and take one ankle with your hand, lift the leg and gently massage the front starting from the groin and towards the ankle.

If you want to relieve bloating and poor digestion, then stretch the baby out face up and massage the abdomen for ten minutes, making small circles in a clockwise direction.

7. Contributes to release congestion

As the results of the following research published in the XVIII Congress of the Cuban Nursing Society 2019 corroborate, massages are effective when newborns have nasal congestion. Therefore, they could help to alleviate the symptoms of discomfort.

So, in order to free a stuffy nose if your little one has a cold, we suggest you perform these three steps:

  • To begin, place your thumbs on their forehead, just above your nose, and apply gentle pressure to your forehead.
  • Next, slide your fingers along the line of the sides of their nose.
  • Continue with the same movement, but outward (along the cheekbones and ears). Do this up to three or four times.

Group or individual shiatsu sessions for babies, a whole experience

A shiatsu session lasts between 20-30 minutes (depending also on the predisposition of the child as you observe them) and can be individual or group (with several children up to 5 years old). Therefore, a good way to make this moment more fun is to do it with other moms.

On the other hand, although they can be done from birth, they’re especially recommended before the child starts walking or crawling. However, remember that if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to go to your pediatrician.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kalbantner-Wernicke, K. (2014). Shiatsu para bebes. Urano.
  • Pérez, G., Palacios, S., Calas, Á., & Ferrer, F. (s. f.). Efectividad del masaje como tratamiento de la obstrucción nasal en recién nacidos Effectiveness of massage as a treatment for nasal obstruction in newborns. Recuperado 27 de diciembre de 2021, de Sld.cu website: http://www.enfermeria2019.sld.cu/index.php/enfermeria/2019/paper/viewFile/318/107
  • Sánchez Sánchez, M. J. (2019). Los masajes y el desarrollo integral de los infantes de 0 a 12 meses de edad, año 2018. Recuperado de https://dspace.unitru.edu.pe/handle/UNITRU/13788
  • Zenz, G., & Wagner, E. (1996). Masaje Para Bebes y Niños Pequeños (5.a ed.). Edaf Antillas.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.