WHY BABIES CRY AND HOW TO LISTEN

Babies cry for many reasons, and it is important to learn your baby’s personality and his or her different cries so that you can respond to them. There are cries that mean, “I need affection,” “I’m hungry,” “I’m in pain,” “I’m uncomfortable,” “I’m tired and cranky and don’t know how to get to sleep,” and still others that are simply “venting” all the stress the baby takes in, adjusting to the world of non-stop stimulation.

Each cry can and should be responded to appropriately. Each baby will differ in his or her need for physical affection. Some need to be held nearly all the time for the first months before crawling. Others are curious and independent almost immediately. To force an infant one way or another is to disempower her and disrupt the flow of chi she needs to become strong, healthy, and independent.

Some people think that babies who cry always need to be calmed and shushed, or, conversely, should be left alone to cry it out. Neither is true. Infants should never be left alone to cry, unheeded, but sometimes they need to cry in the safety of a parent’s arms, without being shushed, to discharge stress. After a certain period, when they sense they are being attended to, they calm and usually sleep much more deeply.

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To be responsive to your baby, read up on the art of “Active Listening.” When you talk to your baby with a listening heart, he or she knows it and you can see the quality of their cries change. Locking with you eye-to-eye, you will see your baby moving her mouth as if trying to speak.

This is one of the most important reasons for pregnant women to massage their bellies, and to massage their infants regularly after birth. You learn, as nothing else can teach you, what your baby needs, and his cries and fusses don’t distress you so much as inform you of what you need to do to respond appropriately and thus allow your baby to grow and blossom like a well-tended flower in your garden.

My book, Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents, was the first, comprehensive book to introduce infant massage to the West. The nonprofit organization I founded in 1979, the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), has instructors in 71 countries. You can find an instructor and take a class — a great way to learn, have your questions answered, and be with other parents who value the crucial “fourth-trimester” bonding process.

CREATING A SAFE AND RESPONSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR BABY

If you respond in the right way, you needn’t worry about when to wean, when to potty train, and all the other advice people want to give you. You will become an expert on your child, and you will naturally know and understand what she is ready to do and when. This gives you the confidence to listen to the experts and then go by your inner sense of what is right.

If you want to create a transition environment for your baby that imitates aspects of the in utero experience, you may want to get a baby pack that keeps your infant close to your body so he can hear your heartbeat and feel your warmth, your breathing, your rhythms.

BABY WEARING

Some pastel organza material draped over the cradle, can soften the light. Putting a warm cap on her head when going outdoors will prevent heat from escaping from her head. A baby monitor can help alert you to your baby’s sounds when she is sleeping and you are in another room. Other aids include a heartbeat simulator for the baby’s cradle and setting the volume low on your stereo or television.

SLEEPING TOGETHER

Some parents want to try family co-sleeping, which is a much-debated practice, particularly in the U.S. We practiced family co-sleeping until my youngest was around five years old. After doing a lot of research on this subject, I have concluded that the tales of accidental suffocation by “overlying” are real, but seem to be related to parents who co-sleep for convenience, who don’t take the precaution of removing any fluffy items from the bed, and/or they smoke.

When and if obstetricians and pediatricians give any information to new parents, co-sleeping is roundly discouraged. Unless expecting and new parents take the time to research the subject and 1) prepare, 2) find out what is the very best way for families to sleep together with a newborn, parents will be frightened and reject the notion, not realizing that sleeping together can reduce parental sleep deprivation and infant fussiness, irritability, and crying.

Dr. James McKenna, Director of the Center for Behavioral Studies of Mother-Infant Sleep at Notre Dame University says, “It is a curious fact that in Western societies the practice of mothers, fathers, and infants sleeping together came to be thought of as strange, unhealthy, and dangerous. Western parents are taught that ‘co-sleeping’ will make the infant to dependent on them, or risk accidental suffocation. Such views are not supported by human experience worldwide.”

FATHER SLEEPING

After having observed how families in India sleep together in a very small space, I wanted to do that with my family. This arrangement, in my experience, allowed me to breastfeed my babies without having to fully awaken. The warmth of my body, my heartbeat, and odor, was just right for them. We could respond quickly to cries, chokes, or other needs. The babies could nurse frequently, giving them more antibodies to fight disease and helping them transition from womb to room.

Dr. McKenna goes on to say, “Human infants need constant attention and contact with other human beings because they are unable to look after themselves. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about, or feed themselves until relatively late in life. It is their extreme neurological immaturity at birth and slow maturation that makes the mother-infant relationship so important.”

Dr. John Medina, in his book Brain Rules for Baby, says, “During the attachment process, a baby’s brain intensely monitors the caregiving it receives. It is essentially asking such things as “Am I being touched? Am I being fed? Am I safe?” If the baby’s requirements are being fulfilled, the brain develops one way; if not, genetic instructions trigger it to develop in another way. It may be a bit disconcerting to realize, but infants have their parents’ behaviors in their sights virtually from the moment they come into this world. It is in their evolutionary best interests to do so, of course, which is another way of saying that they can’t help it. Babies have nowhere else to turn.”

One of my fondest memories is when we were sleeping with our little ones in a family bed. Once, in the middle of the night, my 18-month-old daughter awakened to nurse. She looked up into my face and patted my cheek. “I like you, Mommy, I like you,” she said, then closed her eyes to sleep with a sweet smile on her face. Every time I remember that moment my heart fills with love, joy, and gratitude that this child has come into my life. Now that she is an adult with her own little girl, I share these memories with her and it still has the effect of bringing us close.

Dr. McKenna agrees that these types of interaction are beneficial for both parents and infants. He says, “Studies have shown that separation of the mother and infant has adverse consequences. Anthropological considerations also suggest that separation between mother and infant should be minimal. Western societies must consider carefully how far and under what circumstances they want to push infants away from the loving and protective co-sleeping environment. Infants’ nutritional, emotional, and social needs, as well as maternal responses to them, have evolved in this environment for millennia.”

Often a baby’s crying can lead to and respond to marital discord. Dr. Medina goes on to say, “If the infant is marinated in safety— an emotionally stable home— the system will cook up beautifully. If not, normal stress-coping processes fail. The child is transformed into a state of high alert or a state of complete collapse. If the baby regularly experiences an angry, emotionally violent social environment, his vulnerable little stress responders turn hyper-reactive, a condition known as hyper-cortosolism. If the baby is exposed to severe neglect, like the Romanian orphans, the system becomes under-reactive, a condition known as hypo-cortisolism (hence, the blank stares). Life, to quote Bruce Springsteen, can seem like one long emergency.”

“Infants younger than 6 months old can usually detect that something is wrong. They can experience physiological changes— such as increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones— just like adults. Some researchers claim they can assess the amount of fighting in a marriage simply by taking a 24-hour urine sample of the baby. Babies and small children don’t always understand the content of a fight, but they are very aware that something is wrong.”

Some parents reject co-sleeping because they are concerned about its impact on their sex lives. We found other rooms in the house suited quite nicely. This may not be an option everyone chooses, but I encourage you to read up on it before deciding. It can contribute immensely to the well-being of your whole family. My favorite book on the subject is The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin. I very much recommend Dr. Medina’s book, Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five.

Purchase Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents:
http://www.amazon.com/Vimala-Schneider-McClure-Infant-Massage–Revised/dp/B00N4EKZJK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438282581&sr=1-2&keywords=infant+massage+a+handbook+for+loving+parents+by+vimala+schneider+mcclure

Find an infant massage instructor in the U.S.:
http://www.infantmassageusa.org

DADS: LEARN INFANT MASSAGE FOR YOUR BABY & YOU

Nurturant Men, Successful Kids: You Can Help.

Children benefit immensely from affectionate interaction with both parents. Dr. Michael Lamb, author of The Role of the Father in Child Development says, “A warm, affectionate father-son relationship can strengthen a boy’s masculine development. A nurturant father is a more available model than a non-nurturant father. the nurturant father’s behavior is more often associated with affection and praise and acquires more reward value. Thus a boy with a nurturant father has more incentive to imitate his father than a boy with a non-nurturant father.”
 
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Girls, too, need wholesome bonds with their fathers. The Berkeley Longitudinal Study indicates that the women who are most healthy and well adjusted as adults grew up in homes with two loving, involved parents. The most successful women in the study had fathers who valued femininity and encouraged competency, who were both warm and affectionate with their daughters and supportive of their efforts toward independence.

Massage is a quality experience for parents and infants, from which both benefit immensely. The baby learns that Daddy can touch him gently and lovingly, that Daddy, too, is someone he can count on to help meet his physical and emotional needs. A father who realizes these qualities in himself as a result of the massage experience is certain to have his confidence as a parent substantially boosted.

The most important process that evolves from regular massage of a newborn by his father is bonding. Just as breastfeeding provides consistent reinforcement of the bonding process for mothers — with it cuddling, skin contact, and face-to-face communication — so massage can be just the thing to keep a father literally “in touch” with his baby. Fathers who massage their babies regularly throughout infancy later recall that massage time with fondness.

“I’ll never forget how my son would wiggle and smile when he heard the oil swishing in my hands,” said Ron, father of seven-month-old Jason. “It’s going to be fun to tell him about it when he gets older and to remind him of it when he has his own kids. Heck, maybe someday I’ll massage his baby too!”

That is a quote from a father in one of my classes in 1977. Checking back with him, he still remembers “baby massage time” fondly, and has told me that his son has two teenagers now, and he is looking forward to teaching them when they have kids. He says he talks about it often, and his daughter brags that “Dad learned how to massage me as a baby — he learned from that famous lady that wrote the book!”

As a new father, you may have to use some creativity to structure your time to allow for the twenty to thirty minutes you will need to massage your baby. The best time is usually the morning of your day off, when you can relax unhurriedly. After learning the basic techniques from your wife, this book, and/or a class, you should be alone with your baby for the massage. It is better not to have both parents massaging the baby at once, as this can give your infant mixed signals and make her uncomfortable.

In the beginning, proceed very gently, massaging only the legs and feet. You may have a sense of being too strong or too inexpert to massage your baby, your hands too big or rough. Nearly everyone is a little clumsy and nervous in the beginning, just feel the connection between the two of you, and concentrate on relaxing your body and letting your love go to her. When that feels more comfortable, you can begin a simple stroking, stopping now and then to just hold and relax. Don’t worry about being too “big;” your baby recognizes your special way of handling him.

Remember to make all your movements very smooth and slow, almost like slow motion. Talk or sing softly, make eye contact when baby is ready, and in general follow the baby’s rhythms of communication. As time goes on and your baby becomes familiar with your touch, you may want to spend more time and move on to other parts of the body, developing your own special massage techniques.

If you would like to learn, you can get my book:
http://www.amazon.com/Vimala-Schneider-McClure-Infant-Massage–Revised/dp/B00N4EKZJK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438282581&sr=1-2&keywords=infant+massage+a+handbook+for+loving+parents+by+vimala+schneider+mcclure

or find a class:
http://www.infantmassageusa.org

 

DADS: LEARN INFANT MASSAGE FOR YOUR BABY AND YOU

Nurturant Men, Successful Kids: You Can Help.

Children benefit immensely from affectionate interaction with both parents. Dr. Michael Lamb, author of The Role of the Father in Child Development says, “A warm, affectionate father-son relationship can strengthen a boy’s masculine development. A nurturant father is a more available model than a non-nurturant father. the nurturant father’s behavior is more often associated with affection and praise and acquires more reward value. Thus a boy with a nurturant father has more incentive to imitate his father than a boy with a non-nurturant father.”
11013062_834612156627367_7625995641645553939_n

Girls, too, need wholesome bonds with their fathers. The Berkeley Longitudinal Study indicates that the women who are most healthy and well adjusted as adults grew up in homes with two loving, involved parents. The most successful women in the study had fathers who valued femininity and encouraged competency, who were both warm and affectionate with their daughters and supportive of their efforts toward independence.

Massage is a quality experience for parents and infants, from which both benefit immensely. The baby learns that Daddy can touch him gently and lovingly, that Daddy, too, is someone he can count on to help meet his physical and emotional needs. A father who realizes these qualities in himself as a result of the massage experience is certain to have his confidence as a parent substantially boosted.

The most important process that evolves from regular massage of a newborn by his father is bonding. Just as breastfeeding provides consistent reinforcement of the bonding process for mothers — with it cuddling, skin contact, and face-to-face communication — so massage can be just the thing to keep a father literally “in touch” with his baby. Fathers who massage their babies regularly throughout infancy later recall that massage time with fondness.

“I’ll never forget how my son would wiggle and smile when he heard the oil swishing in my hands,” said Ron, father of seven-month-old Jason. “It’s going to be fun to tell him about it when he gets older and to remind him of it when he has his own kids. Heck, maybe someday I’ll massage his baby too!”

That is a quote from a father in one of my classes in 1977. Checking back with him, he still remembers “baby massage time” fondly, and has told me that his son has two teenagers now, and he is looking forward to teaching them when they have kids. He says he talks about it often, and his daughter brags that “Dad learned how to massage me as a baby — he learned from that famous lady that wrote the book!”

As a new father, you may have to use some creativity to structure your time to allow for the twenty to thirty minutes you will need to massage your baby. The best time is usually the morning of your day off, when you can relax unhurriedly. After learning the basic techniques from your wife, this book, and/or a class, you should be alone with your baby for the massage. It is better not to have both parents massaging the baby at once, as this can give your infant mixed signals and make her uncomfortable.

In the beginning, proceed very gently, massaging only the legs and feet. You may have a sense of being too strong or too inexpert to massage your baby, your hands too big or rough. Nearly everyone is a little clumsy and nervous in the beginning, just feel the connection between the two of you, and concentrate on relaxing your body and letting your love go to her. When that feels more comfortable, you can begin simple stroking, stopping now and then to just hold and relax. Don’t worry about being too “big;” your baby recognizes your special way of handling him.

Make all your movements very smooth and slow, almost like slow motion. Talk or sing softly, make eye contact when baby is ready, and in general follow the baby’s rhythms of communication. As time goes on and your baby becomes familiar with your touch, you may want to spend more time and move on to other parts of the body, developing your own special massage techniques.

If you would like to learn, you can get my book:

DADS: LEARN INFANT MASSAGE FOR YOUR BABY & YOU

Nurturant Men, Successful Kids: You Can Help.

Children benefit immensely from affectionate interaction with both parents. Dr. Michael Lamb, author of The Role of the Father in Child Development says, “A warm, affectionate father-son relationship can strengthen a boy’s masculine development. A nurturant father is a more available model than a non-nurturant father. the nurturant father’s behavior is more often associated with affection and praise and acquires more reward value. Thus a boy with a nurturant father has more incentive to imitate his father than a boy with a non-nurturant father.”
11013062_834612156627367_7625995641645553939_n

Girls, too, need wholesome bonds with their fathers. The Berkeley Longitudinal Study indicates that the women who are most healthy and well adjusted as adults grew up in homes with two loving, involved parents. The most successful women in the study had fathers who valued femininity and encouraged competency, who were both warm and affectionate with their daughters and supportive of their efforts toward independence.

Massage is a quality experience for parents and infants, from which both benefit immensely. The baby learns that Daddy can touch him gently and lovingly, that Daddy, too, is someone he can count on to help meet his physical and emotional needs. A father who realizes these qualities in himself as a result of the massage experience is certain to have his confidence as a parent substantially boosted.

The most important process that evolves from regular massage of a newborn by his father is bonding. Just as breastfeeding provides consistent reinforcement of the bonding process for mothers — with it cuddling, skin contact, and face-to-face communication — so massage can be just the thing to keep a father literally “in touch” with his baby. Fathers who massage their babies regularly throughout infancy later recall that massage time with fondness.

“I’ll never forget how my son would wiggle and smile when he heard the oil swishing in my hands,” said Ron, father of seven-month-old Jason. “It’s going to be fun to tell him about it when he gets older and to remind him of it when he has his own kids. Heck, maybe someday I’ll massage his baby too!”

That is a quote from a father in one of my classes in 1977. Checking back with him, he still remembers “baby massage time” fondly, and has told me that his son has two teenagers now, and he is looking forward to teaching them when they have kids. He says he talks about it often, and his daughter brags that “Dad learned how to massage me as a baby — he learned from that famous lady that wrote the book!”

As a new father, you may have to use some creativity to structure your time to allow for the twenty to thirty minutes you will need to massage your baby. The best time is usually the morning of your day off, when you can relax unhurriedly. After learning the basic techniques from your wife, this book, and/or a class, you should be alone with your baby for the massage. It is better not to have both parents massaging the baby at once, as this can give your infant mixed signals and make her uncomfortable.

In the beginning, proceed very gently, massaging only the legs and feet. You may have a sense of being too strong or too inexpert to massage your baby, your hands too big or rough. Nearly everyone is a little clumsy and nervous in the beginning, just feel the connection between the two of you, and concentrate on relaxing your body and letting your love go to her. When that feels more comfortable, you can begin simple stroking, stopping now and then to just hold and relax. Don’t worry about being too “big;” your baby recognizes your special way of handling him.

Remember to make all your movements very smooth and slow, almost like slow motion. Talk or sing softly, make eye contact when baby is ready, and in general follow the baby’s rhythms of communication. As time goes on and your baby becomes familiar with your touch, you may want to spend more time and move on to other parts of the body, developing your own special massage techniques.

If you would like to learn, you can get my book:
http://www.amazon.com/Vimala-Schneider-McClure-Infant-Massage–Revised/dp/B00N4EKZJK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438282581&sr=1-2keywords=infant+massage+a+handbook+for+loving+parents+by+vimala+schneider+mcclure

THE CONTINUUM CONCEPT: PRECEDES MANY MODERN IDEAS ABOUT INFANTS

I found Jean Liedloff’s Continuum Concept very early in my children’s lives and my work with infant massage. It made great sense to me and informed my parenting – especially the first couple of years of my children’s lives. What is it?

The continuum concept is an idea, coined by Jean Liedloff in her 1975 book The Continuum Concept, that human beings have an innate set of expectations (which Liedloff calls the continuum) that our evolution as a species has designed us to meet in order to achieve optimal physical, mental, and emotional development and adaptability. According to Liedloff, in order to achieve this level of development, young humans—especially babies—require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution by natural selection. For infants, these include, for example, that they experience:

  • Immediate placement, after birth, in their mothers’ arms: Liedloff comments that the common hospital protocol of immediately separating a newborn from its mother may hormonally disrupt the mother, possibly explaining high rates of postpartum depression;
  • Constant carrying or physical contact with other people (usually their mothers or fathers) in the several months after birth, as these adults go about their day-to-day business (during which the infants observe and thus learn, but also nurse, or sleep); this forms a strong basis of personal security for infants, according to Liedloff, from which they will begin developing a healthy drive for independent exploration by eventually starting to naturally creep, and then crawl, usually at six to eight months;
  • Sleeping in the parents’ bed (called co-sleeping), in constant physical contact, until leaving of their own volition (often about two years);
  • Breastfeeding “on cue”—involving infants’ bodily signals being immediately answered by their mothers’ nursing them;
  • Caregivers’ immediate response to the infants’ urgent body signals (flaring temper, crying, sniffling, etc.), without judgment, displeasure, or invalidation of the children’s needs, but also not showing any undue concern nor obsessively focusing on or overindulging the children;
  • Sensing (and fulfilling) elders’ expectations that the infants are innately social and cooperative and have strong self-preservation instincts, and that they are welcome and worthy (yet without making them the constant center of attention)

Liedloff suggests that when certain evolutionary expectations are not met as infants and toddlers, compensation for these needs will be sought, by alternate means, throughout life—resulting in many forms of mental and social disorders. She also argues that these expectations are largely distorted, neglected, and/or not properly met in civilized cultures which have removed themselves from the natural evolutionary process, resulting in the aforementioned abnormal psychological and social conditions. Liedloff’s recommendations fit in more generally with evolutionary psychology, attachment theory, and the philosophy known as the Paleolithic Lifestyle: optimizing well-being by living more like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who Liedloff refers to as “evolved” humans, since their lifeways developed through natural selection by living in the wild.

DADS: LEARN INFANT MASSAGE FOR YOUR BABY & YOU

Nurturant Men, Successful Kids: You Can Help.

Children benefit immensely from affectionate interaction with both parents. Dr. Michael Lamb, author of The Role of the Father in Child Development says, “A warm, affectionate father-son relationship can strengthen a boy’s masculine development. A nurturant father is a more available model than a non-nurturant father. the nurturant father’s behavior is more often associated with affection and praise and acquires more reward value. Thus a boy with a nurturant father has more incentive to imitate his father than a boy with a non-nurturant father.”
11013062_834612156627367_7625995641645553939_n

Girls, too, need wholesome bonds with their fathers. The Berkeley Longitudinal Study indicates that the women who are most healthy and well adjusted as adults grew up in homes with two loving, involved parents. The most successful women in the study had fathers who valued femininity and encouraged competency, who were both warm and affectionate with their daughters and supportive of their efforts toward independence.

Massage is a quality experience for parents and infants, from which both benefit immensely. The baby learns that Daddy can touch him gently and lovingly, that Daddy, too, is someone he can count on to help meet his physical and emotional needs. A father who realizes these qualities in himself as a result of the massage experience is certain to have his confidence as a parent substantially boosted.

The most important process that evolves from regular massage of a newborn by his father is bonding. Just as breastfeeding provides consistent reinforcement of the bonding process for mothers — with it cuddling, skin contact, and face-to-face communication — so massage can be just the thing to keep a father literally “in touch” with his baby. Fathers who massage their babies regularly throughout infancy later recall that massage time with fondness.

“I’ll never forget how my son would wiggle and smile when he heard the oil swishing in my hands,” said Ron, father of seven-month-old Jason. “It’s going to be fun to tell him about it when he gets older and to remind him of it when he has his own kids. Heck, maybe someday I’ll massage his baby too!”

That is a quote from a father in one of my classes in 1977. Checking back with him, he still remembers “baby massage time” fondly, and has told me that his son has two teenagers now, and he is looking forward to teaching them when they have kids. He says he talks about it often, and his daughter brags that “Dad learned how to massage me as a baby — he learned from that famous lady that wrote the book!”

As a new father, you may have to use some creativity to structure your time to allow for the twenty to thirty minutes you will need to massage your baby. The best time is usually the morning of your day off, when you can relax unhurriedly. After learning the basic techniques from your wife, this book, and/or a class, you should be alone with your baby for the massage. It is better not to have both parents massaging the baby at once, as this can give your infant mixed signals and make her uncomfortable.

In the beginning, proceed very gently, massaging only the legs and feet. You may have a sense of being too strong or too inexpert to massage your baby, your hands too big or rough. Nearly everyone is a little clumsy and nervous in the beginning, just feel the connection between the two of you, and concentrate on relaxing your body and letting your love go to her. When that feels more comfortable, you can begin simple stroking, stopping now and then to just hold and relax. Don’t worry about being too “big;” your baby recognizes your special way of handling him.

Remember to make all your movements very smooth and slow, almost like slow motion. Talk or sing softly, make eye contact when baby is ready, and in general follow the baby’s rhythms of communication. As time goes on and your baby becomes familiar with your touch, you may want to spend more time and move on to other parts of the body, developing your own special massage techniques.

If you would like to learn, you can get my book:
http://www.amazon.com/Vimala-Schneider-McClure-Infant-Massage–Revised/dp/B00N4EKZJK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438282581&sr=1-2&keywords=infant+massage+a+handbook+for+loving+parents+by+vimala+schneider+mcclure

or find a class:
http://www.infantmassageusa.org

WHY BABIES CRY AND HOW TO LISTEN

Babies cry for many reasons, and it is important to learn your baby’s personality and his or her different cries so that you can respond to them. There are cries that mean, “I need affection,” “I’m hungry,” “I’m in pain,” “I’m uncomfortable,” “I’m tired and cranky and don’t know how to get to sleep,” and still others that are simply “venting” all the stress the baby takes in, adjusting to the world of non-stop stimulation.

Each cry can and should be responded to appropriately. Each baby will differ in his or her need for physical affection. Some need to be held nearly all the time for the first months before crawling. Others are curious and independent almost immediately. To force an infant one way or another is to disempower her and disrupt the flow of chi she needs to become strong, healthy, and independent.

Some people think that babies who cry always need to be calmed and shushed, or, conversely, should be left alone to cry it out. Neither is true. Infants should never be left alone to cry, unheeded, but sometimes they need to cry in the safety of a parent’s arms, without being shushed, to discharge stress. After a certain period, when they sense they are being attended to, they calm and usually sleep much more deeply.

QUOTE 13_n

To be responsive to your baby, read up on the art of “Active Listening.” When you talk to your baby with a listening heart, he or she knows it and you can see the quality of their cries change. Locking with you eye-to-eye, you will see your baby moving her mouth as if trying to speak.

This is one of the most important reasons for pregnant women to massage their bellies, and to massage their infants regularly after birth. You learn, as nothing else can teach you, what your baby needs, and his cries and fusses don’t distress you so much as inform you of what you need to do to respond appropriately and thus allow your baby to grow and blossom like a well-tended flower in your garden.

My book, Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents, was the first, comprehensive book to introduce infant massage to the West. The nonprofit organization I founded in 1979, the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), has instructors in 71 countries. You can find an instructor and take a class — a great way to learn, have your questions answered, and be with other parents who value the crucial “fourth trimester” bonding process.

CREATING A SAFE AND RESPONSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR BABY

If you respond in the right way, you needn’t worry about when to wean, when to potty train, and all the other advice people want to give you. You will become an expert on your child, and you will naturally know and understand what she is ready to do and when. This gives you the confidence to listen to the experts and then go by your inner sense of what is right.

If you want to create a transition environment for your baby that imitates aspects of the in utero experience, you may want to get a baby pack that keeps your infant close to your body so he can hear your heartbeat and feel your warmth, your breathing, your rhythms.

BABY WEARING

Some pastel organza material, draped over the cradle, can soften the light. Putting a warm cap on her head when going outdoors will prevent heat from escaping from her head. A baby monitor can help alert you to your baby’s sounds when she is sleeping and you are in another room. Other aids include a heartbeat simulator for the baby’s cradle and setting the volume low on your stereo or television.

SLEEPING TOGETHER

Some parents want to try family co-sleeping, which is a much debated practice, particularly in the U.S. We practiced family co-sleeping until my youngest was around five years old. After doing a lot of research on this subject, I have concluded that the tales of accidental suffocation by “overlying” are real, but seem to be related to parents who co-sleep for convenience, who don’t take the precaution of removing any fluffy items from the bed, and/or they smoke.

When and if obstetricians and pediatricians give any information to new parents, co-sleeping is roundly discouraged. Unless expecting and new parents take the time to research the subject and 1) prepare, 2) find out what is the very best way for families to sleep together with a newborn, parents will be frightened and reject the notion, not realizing that sleeping together can reduce parental sleep deprivation and infant fussiness, irritability, and crying.

Dr. James McKenna, Director of the Center for Behavioral Studies of Mother-Infant Sleep at Notre Dame University says, “It is a curious fact that in Western societies the practice of mothers, fathers, and infants sleeping together came to be thought of as strange, unhealthy, and dangerous. Western parents are taught that ‘co-sleeping’ will make the infant to dependent on them, or risk accidental suffocation. Such views are not supported by human experience worldwide.”

FATHER SLEEPING

After having observed how families in India sleep together in a very small space, I wanted to do that with my family. This arrangement, in my experience, allowed me to breastfeed my babies without having to fully awaken. The warmth of my body, my heartbeat and odor, was just right for them. We could respond quickly to cries, chokes, or other needs. The babies could nurse frequently, giving them more antibodies to fight disease and helping them transition from womb to room.

Dr. McKenna goes on to say, “Human infants need constant attention and contact with other human beings because they are unable to look after themselves. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about, or feed themselves until relatively late in life. It is their extreme neurological immaturity at birth and slow maturation that makes the mother-infant relationship so important.”

Dr. John Medina, in his book Brain Rules for Baby, says, “During the attachment process, a baby’s brain intensely monitors the caregiving it receives. It is essentially asking such things as “Am I being touched? Am I being fed? Am I safe?” If the baby’s requirements are being fulfilled, the brain develops one way; if not, genetic instructions trigger it to develop in another way. It may be a bit disconcerting to realize, but infants have their parents’ behaviors in their sights virtually from the moment they come into this world. It is in their evolutionary best interests to do so, of course, which is another way of saying that they can’t help it. Babies have nowhere else to turn.”

One of my fondest memories is when we were sleeping with our little ones in a family bed. Once, in the middle of the night, my 18-month-old daughter awakened to nurse. She looked up into my face and patted my cheek. “I like you, Mommy, I like you,” she said, then closed her eyes to sleep with a sweet smile on her face. Every time I remember that moment my heart fills with love, joy, and gratitude that this child has come into my life. Now that she is an adult with her own little girl, I share these memories with her and it still has the effect of bringing us close.

Dr. McKenna agrees that this types of interaction is beneficial for both parents and infants. He says, “Studies have shown that separation of the mother and infant has adverse consequences. Anthropological considerations also suggest that separation between mother and infant should be minimal. Western societies must consider carefully how far and under what circumstances they want to push infants away from the loving and protective co-sleeping environment. Infants’ nutritional, emotional, and social needs as well as maternal responses to them have evolved in this environment for millennia.”

Often a baby’s crying can lead to and respond to marital discord. Dr. Medina goes on to say, “If the infant is marinated in safety— an emotionally stable home— the system will cook up beautifully. If not, normal stress-coping processes fail. The child is transformed into a state of high alert or a state of complete collapse. If the baby regularly experiences an angry, emotionally violent social environment, his vulnerable little stress responders turn hyper-reactive, a condition known as hyper-cortosolism. If the baby is exposed to severe neglect, like the Romanian orphans, the system becomes under-reactive, a condition known as hypo-cortisolism (hence, the blank stares). Life, to quote Bruce Springsteen, can seem like one long emergency.”

“Infants younger than 6 months old can usually detect that something is wrong. They can experience physiological changes— such as increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones— just like adults. Some researchers claim they can assess the amount of fighting in a marriage simply by taking a 24-hour urine sample of the baby. Babies and small children don’t always understand the content of a fight, but they are very aware that something is wrong.”

Some parents reject co-sleeping because they are concerned about its impact on their sex lives. We found other rooms in the house suited quite nicely. This may not be an option everyone chooses, but I encourage you to read up on it before deciding. It can contribute immensely to the well-being of your whole family. My favorite book on the subject is The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin. I very much recommend Dr. Medina’s book, Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five.

Purchase Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents:
http://www.amazon.com/Vimala-Schneider-McClure-Infant-Massage–Revised/dp/B00N4EKZJK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438282581&sr=1-2&keywords=infant+massage+a+handbook+for+loving+parents+by+vimala+schneider+mcclure

Find an infant massage instructor in the U.S.:
http://www.infantmassageusa.org

 

INFANT MASSAGE: STRESS AND RELAXATION

Infant massage is one tool we have to help reshape our child’s interpretations of the world, to release her pain, grief, and fear, and to open her up to love and joy.

Touch meets a baby’s needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement. Skin-to-skin contact is especially effective, such as during breastfeeding, bathing, or massage. Carrying or babywearing also meets this need while on the go. Hugs, snuggling, back rubs, massage, and physical play help meet this need in older children.

In our great-grandmothers’ day, when a baby developed a fever, the outcome was uncertain. Each century’s children have been plagued with some debilitating disease. Though many contagions have been eliminated through improved environmental conditions and medicine, our century is characterized by a more subtle and insidious malady — stress.

Stress can begin to affect a baby even before he is born. The levels of stress hormones that are constantly present in a woman’s bloodstream directly affect her unborn infant, crossing the placenta to enter his own bloodstream. Studies have shown that prolonged tension and anxiety can hamper a pregnant woman’s ability to absorb nourishment. Her baby may be of low birth weight, hyperactive, and irritable.

If we understand that our experiences and reactions influence our own biochemistry by sending life-enhancing or fear-producing chemicals throughout our bodies, it is not difficult to understand that these chemicals are also sent through our unborn baby’s body. Her cells receive this “information” and program her structure accordingly. Thus, even before birth, a baby can unconsciously perceive the world as a place of anxiety and stress, to fight or be victimized by, or a place of safety and love, to enjoy and fully experience. This is not to say all is lost if life circumstances are less than perfect. Infant massage is one tool we have to help reshape our child’s interpretations of the world, to release her pain, grief, and fear, and to open her up to love and joy. As we evolve to be more conscious beings, we understand more deeply how important our mental states are, both to our own health and longevity and to our children’s health, longevity, intelligence, and ability to experience and give love and joy.

Babies born centuries ago in more primitive cultures had the advantage of extended families, natural environments, and relatively little change. Our children, born into a rapidly advancing technological world, must effectively handle stress if they are to survive and prosper. Thus must give them every opportunity, from conception on, to learn positive, adaptive responses to stress and to believe in their own power and adaptability.

We certainly cannot eliminate stress, nor would we wish to, for in the proper doses it is an essential component in the growth of intelligence. Let’s see how this works. In times of stress, the pituitary gland produces a hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which activates the adrenal steroids, organizing the body and brain to deal with an unknown or unpredictable emergency. In experiments with laboratory animals, this hormone has been found to stimulate the production of many new proteins in the liver and brain — proteins that are instrumental in both learning and memory. On being given ACTH, the animals’ brains grow millions of new connecting links between the neurons (thinking cells). These links enable the brain to process information.

The stress of meeting unknown situations and converting them into what is known and predictable is essential for our babies’ brain development. But stress is only part of the cycle that enhances learning. Without its equally important opposite — relaxation — stress can lead to overstimulation, exhaustion, and shock. When stress piles upon stress without the relief of an equal portion of relaxation, the body begins to shut out all sensory intake and the learning process is completely blocked. As neuroscientist Bruce Lipton described, between the two choices — protection-related or growth-promoting — protection-related biological behaviors kick in, thus preventing growth or learning.

How does this apply to infant massage? First, massage is one way we can provide our children with relaxing, joyful experiences. Through the use of conditioned response techniques similar to those developed for childbirth by Lamaze and others, we can teach our babies how to relax their bodies in response to stress. The ability to relax consciously is a tremendous advantage in coping with the pressures of growing up in modern society. If acquired early in life, the realization response can become as much a part of our children’s natural system as the antibodies that protect them from disease.

Stress is a natural part of an infant’s life, but often our babies are not able to benefit from it as much as they could. Our fast-paced society overloads them with input, but it is unacceptable for them to cry to release tension. This double bind leads to many frustrated babies with a lot of pent-up tension and anxiety.

Massage helps babies practice handling input and responding to it with relaxation. Watch an experienced mother massaging her baby. You will see both stress and relaxation in the rhythmic strokes and in the baby’s reactions. The infant experiences all kinds of new sensations, feelings, odors, sounds, and sights. The rumbles of his tummy, the warm sensation of increased circulation, the movement of air on his bare skin — all are mildly stressful to him. The pleasant tone of his mother’s voice, her smile and her touch are relaxing and relieve the discomfort of encountering these new sensations. The reassures him that the world outside the womb is, as Dr. Frederick Laborers says, “still alive, and warm, and beating, and friendly.”

A daily massage gradually raises an infant’s stimulation threshold. Babies who have difficulty handling stimulation gradually build tolerance. High-need babies begin to learn to regulate the manner in which they respond to stressful experiences, which reduces the level of tension they develop throughout the day. Colicky babies are calmed and able to relax their bodies so that tension doesn’t escalate their discomfort. A regular massage provides our babies with an early stress management program that will be valuable to them in years to come.

INTO ADULTHOOD

Psychologists study the types of attachments we form in our infant as predictors of the types of relationships we will have as adults. People whose infancy was secure, who were held and listened to, who had good eye contact with their parents, and who were generally cherished tend to have healthier relationships with others. Getting close to others is easy, and they have no problem with interdependency (the ability to depend on and be depended on, appropriately). They have happy, trusting relationships; their romances last the longest and end in divorce the least often of groups studied. On the other hand, babies whose attachment bonds are insecure or anxious are later less sympathetic to others and less effective in getting support and help from other people. Their relationships lack trust and intimacy; jealousy and commitment problems and fears undermine friendships as well as marriages. People whose bonds are constantly broken in infancy have a much greater risk of becoming sociopathic criminals in their adulthood unless they receive serious intervention at an early stage.

The bonds of trust and love, the lessons of compassion, warmth, openness, and respect that are inherent in the massage routine will be carried by your child into adulthood. Especially if your parenting practices reflect the same values of infant massage, your child will be more likely to respond to others with compassion and altruism and to experience life as a joyful adventure in which he has the opportunity to love and be loved — to help others and extend himself in genuine service to humanity.

© 2019 Vimala McClure

The importance of touch in development

Source: The importance of touch in development

Note: Very large bibliography

Touch has emerged as an important modality for the facilitation of growth and development; positive effects of supplemental mechanosensory stimulation have been demonstrated in a wide range of organisms, from worm larvae to rat pups to human infants.

WHY BABIES CRY AND HOW TO LISTEN

Babies cry for many reasons, and it is important to learn your baby’s personality and his or her different cries so that you can respond to them. There are cries that mean, “I need affection,” “I’m hungry,” “I’m in pain,” “I’m uncomfortable,” “I’m tired and cranky and don’t know how to get to sleep,” and still others that are simply “venting” all the stress the baby takes in, adjusting to the world of non-stop stimulation.

Each cry can and should be responded to appropriately. Each baby will differ in his or her need for physical affection. Some need to be held nearly all the time for the first months before crawling. Others are curious and independent almost immediately. To force an infant one way or another is to disempower her and disrupt the flow of chi she needs to become strong, healthy, and independent.

Some people think that babies who cry always need to be calmed and shushed, or, conversely, should be left alone to cry it out. Neither is true. Infants should never be left alone to cry, unheeded, but sometimes they need to cry in the safety of a parent’s arms, without being shushed, to discharge stress. After a certain period, when they sense they are being attended to, they calm and usually sleep much more deeply.

QUOTE 13_n

To be responsive to your baby, read up on the art of “Active Listening.” When you talk to your baby with a listening heart, he or she knows it and you can see the quality of their cries change. Locking with you eye-to-eye, you will see your baby moving her mouth as if trying to speak.

This is one of the most important reasons for pregnant women to massage their bellies, and to massage their infants regularly after birth. You learn, as nothing else can teach you, what your baby needs, and his cries and fusses don’t distress you so much as inform you of what you need to do to respond appropriately and thus allow your baby to grow and blossom like a well-tended flower in your garden.

My book, Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents, was the first, comprehensive book to introduce infant massage to the West. The nonprofit organization I founded in 1979, the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), has instructors in 71 countries. You can find an instructor and take a class — a great way to learn, have your questions answered, and be with other parents who value the crucial “fourth trimester” bonding process.

CREATING A SAFE AND RESPONSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR BABY

If you respond in the right way, you needn’t worry about when to wean, when to potty train, and all the other advice people want to give you. You will become an expert on your child, and you will naturally know and understand what she is ready to do and when. This gives you the confidence to listen to the experts and then go by your inner sense of what is right.

If you want to create a transition environment for your baby that imitates aspects of the in utero experience, you may want to get a baby pack that keeps your infant close to your body so he can hear your heartbeat and feel your warmth, your breathing, your rhythms.

BABY WEARING

Some pastel organza material, draped over the cradle, can soften the light. Putting a warm cap on her head when going outdoors will prevent heat from escaping from her head. A baby monitor can help alert you to your baby’s sounds when she is sleeping and you are in another room. Other aids include a heartbeat simulator for the baby’s cradle and setting the volume low on your stereo or television.

SLEEPING TOGETHER

Some parents want to try family co-sleeping, which is a much debated practice, particularly in the U.S. We practiced family co-sleeping until my youngest was around five years old. After doing a lot of research on this subject, I have concluded that the tales of accidental suffocation by “overlying” are real, but seem to be related to parents who co-sleep for convenience, who don’t take the precaution of removing any fluffy items from the bed, and/or they smoke.

When and if obstetricians and pediatricians give any information to new parents, co-sleeping is roundly discouraged. Unless expecting and new parents take the time to research the subject and 1) prepare, 2) find out what is the very best way for families to sleep together with a newborn, parents will be frightened and reject the notion, not realizing that sleeping together can reduce parental sleep deprivation and infant fussiness, irritability, and crying.

Dr. James McKenna, Director of the Center for Behavioral Studies of Mother-Infant Sleep at Notre Dame University says, “It is a curious fact that in Western societies the practice of mothers, fathers, and infants sleeping together came to be thought of as strange, unhealthy, and dangerous. Western parents are taught that ‘co-sleeping’ will make the infant to dependent on them, or risk accidental suffocation. Such views are not supported by human experience worldwide.”

FATHER SLEEPING

After having observed how families in India sleep together in a very small space, I wanted to do that with my family. This arrangement, in my experience, allowed me to breastfeed my babies without having to fully awaken. The warmth of my body, my heartbeat and odor, was just right for them. We could respond quickly to cries, chokes, or other needs. The babies could nurse frequently, giving them more antibodies to fight disease and helping them transition from womb to room.

Dr. McKenna goes on to say, “Human infants need constant attention and contact with other human beings because they are unable to look after themselves. Unlike other mammals, they cannot keep themselves warm, move about, or feed themselves until relatively late in life. It is their extreme neurological immaturity at birth and slow maturation that makes the mother-infant relationship so important.”

Dr. John Medina, in his book Brain Rules for Baby, says, “During the attachment process, a baby’s brain intensely monitors the caregiving it receives. It is essentially asking such things as “Am I being touched? Am I being fed? Am I safe?” If the baby’s requirements are being fulfilled, the brain develops one way; if not, genetic instructions trigger it to develop in another way. It may be a bit disconcerting to realize, but infants have their parents’ behaviors in their sights virtually from the moment they come into this world. It is in their evolutionary best interests to do so, of course, which is another way of saying that they can’t help it. Babies have nowhere else to turn.”

One of my fondest memories is when we were sleeping with our little ones in a family bed. Once, in the middle of the night, my 18-month-old daughter awakened to nurse. She looked up into my face and patted my cheek. “I like you, Mommy, I like you,” she said, then closed her eyes to sleep with a sweet smile on her face. Every time I remember that moment my heart fills with love, joy, and gratitude that this child has come into my life. Now that she is an adult with her own little girl, I share these memories with her and it still has the effect of bringing us close.

Dr. McKenna agrees that this types of interaction is beneficial for both parents and infants. He says, “Studies have shown that separation of the mother and infant has adverse consequences. Anthropological considerations also suggest that separation between mother and infant should be minimal. Western societies must consider carefully how far and under what circumstances they want to push infants away from the loving and protective co-sleeping environment. Infants’ nutritional, emotional, and social needs as well as maternal responses to them have evolved in this environment for millennia.”

Often a baby’s crying can lead to and respond to marital discord. Dr. Medina goes on to say, “If the infant is marinated in safety— an emotionally stable home— the system will cook up beautifully. If not, normal stress-coping processes fail. The child is transformed into a state of high alert or a state of complete collapse. If the baby regularly experiences an angry, emotionally violent social environment, his vulnerable little stress responders turn hyper-reactive, a condition known as hyper-cortosolism. If the baby is exposed to severe neglect, like the Romanian orphans, the system becomes under-reactive, a condition known as hypo-cortisolism (hence, the blank stares). Life, to quote Bruce Springsteen, can seem like one long emergency.”

“Infants younger than 6 months old can usually detect that something is wrong. They can experience physiological changes— such as increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones— just like adults. Some researchers claim they can assess the amount of fighting in a marriage simply by taking a 24-hour urine sample of the baby. Babies and small children don’t always understand the content of a fight, but they are very aware that something is wrong.”

Some parents reject co-sleeping because they are concerned about its impact on their sex lives. We found other rooms in the house suited quite nicely. This may not be an option everyone chooses, but I encourage you to read up on it before deciding. It can contribute immensely to the well-being of your whole family. My favorite book on the subject is The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin. I very much recommend Dr. Medina’s book, Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five.

Purchase Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents:
http://www.amazon.com/Vimala-Schneider-McClure-Infant-Massage–Revised/dp/B00N4EKZJK/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438282581&sr=1-2&keywords=infant+massage+a+handbook+for+loving+parents+by+vimala+schneider+mcclure

Find an infant massage instructor in the U.S.:
http://www.infantmassageusa.org