Babies’ brains begin to develop in the womb. At birth, a baby has all the brain cells it will ever need, but is missing the connections between these cells. During the critical first 1001 days of life, connections in the brain are estimated to be created at a rate of a million per second. It is therefore of great importance to understand that the experiences the baby is exposed to in the first few days, months and years of life shape the baby’s brain, determining how the brain cells form connections and create
the foundation of the baby’s (and future adult’s) mental and emotional health and behaviour.
Babies and children who receive sensitive, appropriate and responsive care from their parents in the first 1001 days of life will have built a strong foundation for emotional and social development, education and future success in their lives, allowing them to build secure relationships as adults and cope with the stresses adult life may throw at them.
Baby massage helps the parent to tune in to his or her baby’s needs, allowing a calm space to gradually understand and nurture their baby’s communications by watching their expressions, movements and reactions. By developing the skill of responsive parenting, the baby will learn to feel safe to explore the world, with the confidence to return to their base of safety: their caregiver. As the baby feels confident that they are understood and protected, their emotional brain, which forms their understanding of the world, develops and so wiring their brain for love, trust, confidence and low anxiety, ultimately providing the foundation for the future adult’s emotional understanding and well-being.
During a baby massage class we also encourage the parents communicate constantly through verbal and non-verbal means. Not only does this help develop the baby’s language skills, but it shows a reciprocation of communication, further enhancing the baby’s bond and trusting relationship with his or her direct caregiver. We also ensure that we follow the baby’s lead and parents are encouraged to respond to their baby when they express themselves – sometimes a baby does not wish to have a massage, or is tired or hungry. Throughout all classes, the babies are in charge.
Ultimately, it is a very exiting time to be a new parent or to be a professional supporting new families. Instinctive and responsive parenting means, no matter what the forums, family members or influencers may suggest, the parent is ultimately their baby’s expert. By tuning in to their baby, learning to read their baby’s cues, cries and cuddles, the line of communication is open and will develop further over time. As a baby massage instructor my goal is that a parent is helped to feel empowered to trust their instincts and trust their knowledge of their own baby and to help them expose their baby to those wonderful bonding experiences that, ultimately will go on to shape their future potential for emotional and mental well-being.