Yes! Sort of. Let me explain. Acupuncture is for kids, you can do acupuncture on children from birth on and it is perfectly safe and very beneficial. When performing acupuncture for kids needles are inserted shallowly and for short duration - just in and out for babies and infants without any “needle retention time” where you rest on the table with the needles for a while. The “sort of” part comes in because acupuncture is not strictly necessary for kids under the age of 6 - Pediatric Tuina, or Chinese pediatric therapeutic massage, is just as effective and completely non-invasive.
What Is Tuina?
Tuina translates literally into “leg pulling” but it involves much more than that. In China it is taught as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine along with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal instruction. Tuina encompasses everything we think of as massage, chiropractic and physical therapy - deep tissue-type therapeutic massage is combined with specific acupressure and stretching techniques, and in some cases manipulations are performed to align joints [note that manipulation is not taught in the West due to acupuncture license restriction, however]. Then exercises are prescribed to help you hold and maintain your results.
It also incorporates pediatric techniques using acupressure and massage to stimulate Qi and heal illness in children from birth to 12, though from birth to 6 years of age is when it is most effective. This is because children under 6 do not have fully formed energetic systems yet - there are fewer points and general energetic areas that treat different ailments vs. the full 12 meridian system and 365+ points we see in adults. At age 6 the meridians become full, and children can be treated in the same manner as adults, but depending on their physical, mental and emotional maturity, sometimes Pediatric Tuina still works just as well if not better up until age 12.
Benefits of Pediatric Tuina
Whenever I treat children especially under 6, I prefer to have parents in the room and rather than perform the entire treatment myself, I will demonstrate the technique a few times and then instruct the parent in performing it. This puts children at ease and empowers the parents to heal their children at a time when they feel at a loss for what to do.
There are Pediatric Tuina protocols for quite an array of childhood illnesses, including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bed wetting (as support along with behavior modification efforts at home), asthma, night crying, abdominal pain, even abdominal parasites! Its a powerful tool that I am lucky to know and proud to be able to share.
Is Pediatric Tuina Right for Me and My Child?
If you’re wondering if pediatric tuina could be right for your child, the best thing to do is talk to a provider. Feel free to book a consultation online which we can complete in person or over the phone to determine if it could be the right fit for you. If you’re ready to give it a try, book an acupuncture appointment and make a note that you’re interested in Pediatric Tuina and that’s what we’ll do!
Until next time,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.