Paediatric tui na is a Chinese therapeutic massage often given to babies and young children. But how safe is this treatment?


When a 26-year-old woman died after suffering a seizure during a tui na session, several mums expressed reservations about bringing their babies for this form of massage.

Says Canny Lai, who had taken 1-year-old Jevon for tui na treatment when he was having a cold, “I found it helpful because he was less congested after that and could sleep more comfortably.”

Tui na benefits

TCM physician Zhou Jing of Thomson Chinese Medicine explains that tui na massage is a special massage technique based on the TCM principles of yin yang and zang fu aimed at restoring a baby’s bodily functions, as well as boost his immunity. It is different from the adult form of tui na that we are more familiar with.

Zhou notes that in Chinese medicine, babies’ and young children’s spleens tend to be weak, while the liver tends to be in excess “脾常不足,肝常有余”. As a result, they suffer mainly from mainly digestion problems, sleep issues and respiratory illnesses, such as a persistent cough and phlegm.

This therapy corrects the baby's body imbalances, while boosting their immunity. Zhou says, "Paediatric tui na is very effective for digestion problems, respiratory problems and some psychological conditions."

It can treat indigestion, eating disorders, a persistent cough, insomnia, fever, and allergic rhinitis. The massage is also very effective for some musculoskeletal conditions, like infant torticollis.

Is it safe?

Zhou explains that tui na massage is a non-invasive, harmless and effective form of treatment for babies. She adds that the earliest that a baby can receive tui na is when he is 4 to 6 months old.

Only a licenced TCM practitioner that is experienced in tui na should perform the treatment. Before the therapy, the physician will ask questions regarding your little one's condition. They will also take baby's pulse and examine his tongue to better understand his condition.

Depending on the severity of the condition and your baby's age, the session usually lasts about 15 to 30 minutes.

How tui na is done

The TCM physician should sanitise their hands before the therapy to prevent any cross contamination. They should also ensure that baby is comfortable, whether on the bed or sitting on their mother’s lap.

Tui na massage is performed using very gentle strokes with the hands, mainly on baby’s hands, limbs and back, Zhou assures. This includes kneading, rubbing, and pushing. The treatment is customised to the baby's condition and constitution.

As this therapy is very safe, just make sure that you wait for at least an hour after the treatment to give you tot a bath, she notes.

Photo: INGimages

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