Your voice can be an important part of your baby’s massage. By talking softly, humming, or singing, you create an atmosphere of calm. This verbal communication also helps you keep your mind in the present and your attention on your baby.
Singing is a wonderful way to relax. Sing to your baby anytime–while changing diapers, feeding, rocking, or walking. You will discover there are some songs your baby loves to hear again and again. His sense of musical discrimination will astound you.
Familiar lullabies from your own childhood would fit in beautifully here. Think of your grandmother’s music box that played a Brahms lullaby or the wonderful, lilting “Alouette” you learned in elementary school. Recall how your own mother sang “Go to Sleep, My Baby” to your younger siblings, and do likewise with your baby.
In one study, parents were asked to sing a song of their choice in two ways. First they were asked to sing as they would to their baby, even though the baby was not present. Then the parent would sing the same song to the baby herself. When other adults were asked to listen to these recordings, they could nearly always identify the song that was sung directly to the infant; these versions tended to be sung at a higher pitch, with much more emotional engagement, elongation of vowel sounds, and more slowly. Interestingly, the fathers sang more slowly to their babies than did the mothers.
This study helps confirm my earlier discussion of how babies respond to their parents’ vocalization, when parents unconsciously make it easier for their babies to understand by elongating vowel sounds. So babies actually affect the way parents vocalize; there is a synchrony of interaction that is part of the dance of bonding. Singing is a wonderful way to soothe your baby and capture her attention.
In my book, INFANT MASSAGE: A HANDBOOK FOR LOVING PARENTS, I include some folk lullabies from around the world. I’ve also included a list of books and music that will help you utilize this wonderful tool in your practice of infant massage. In additioin, the International Association of Infant Massage and its American chapter, Infant Massage USA, has an online store in which you can purchase several different renditions of our lullaby, “Ami Tomake Bhalobashi Baby.” See InfantMassageWarehouse.com and AmiTomake.com