Tui na for babies: Safe or not?

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


A 26-year-old woman died recently after suffering a seizure during a tui na session. While police have yet to classify the case and investigations are ongoing, several mums are expressing 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 several months ago, “I found it helpful because he was less congested after that and could sleep more comfortably.” Although she is worried at hearing news of the woman’s death away during tui na, she adds “hopefully the authorities will assure everyone that the massage is completely safe”.

Tui na benefits

TCM physician Lim Lay Beng of YS Healthcare TCM Clinic, explains that infant tui na xiao er tui na is a massage therapy that stimulates specific acupuncture points in children to treat or prevent paediatric diseases. This therapy treats illnesses and conditions such as colds, fevers, diarrhoea, eczema, colic and ADHD.

         “It’s performed according to the characteristics of the child’s physiology and pathology,” Lim notes. Tui na can help strengthen the child’s organs and enhance the immune system, as well as stimulate his growth and brain development.

Is it safe?

Lim, who notes that tui na is very safe for babies and children, stresses that the massage should only be performed by a qualified TCM physician. A proper TCM diagnosis based on the child’s health history, current condition, medication and lifestyle, should be undertaken before junior gets the therapy. In addition, the session should last between 10 to 15 minutes, and no longer than 30 minutes.

         Lim advises, “Tui na should not be carried out for the child immediately after food or milk, when he’s too hungry or too tired. Following the session, the child should keep warm, drink warm water, and avoid raw, cold, sweet and oily food.”

Photo: INGimages

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