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Vimala McClure founded The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) in 1986.

You can learn more about Vimala and IAIM on the IAIM site here.

  • 03/26/2019 3:16 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    Unlike the clinging monkey, the human infant has no physical means of initiating contact with his mother and thus getting his needs fulfilled. His life depends upon the strength of his parents’ emotional attachment to him. Where there is early and extended mother-baby contact, studies show impressively positive results. Mothers who bonded with their babies in the first hours and days of life later showed greater closeness to their own babies, exhibited much more soothing behavior, maintained more eye contact, and touched their babies more often. Early contact mothers were more successful in breastfeeding and spent more time looking at their infants during feeding, and their babies’ weight gain was greater. At age three, these children had significantly higher IQ scores on the Stanford-Binet test than children who had been separated from their mothers.

    I began massaging my baby shortly after he was born. I started with the traditional massage I had learned in India, and due to my research and my observations, I gradually added and subtracted elements that were backed up by professional research and because of my yoga teaching, my knowledge of the lymph system and the importance of including massage and movements to stimulate it. Lymph carries toxins through its own system and helps push the toxins out through the gastrointestinal system. It has no innate way to circulate on its own — movement of some kind helps circulate the lymph. The circulation of lymph is one of the foundations of yoga postures.

    After my first baby was born, I continued studying bonding and its elements, strapping him to my chest (in a new product, invented by an acquaintance of mind, called a “Snugli”) and heading off to the medical library several times a week. By that time I massaged my baby daily and, as much as possible, carried him in a front pack on my chest.

    A Massage Routine that Could Be Taught

    After massaging my baby every day for three months and continuing my research, I developed a massage routine that could be taught. My baby was “colicky” and so I used massage and yoga postures to help mature his gastrointestinal system. The routine I developed was always successful in reducing, then eliminating, the cries of colic. The massage helped move fecal matter and gas through the intestines and down through the colon, easily eliminated by the baby’s natural system. Using the strokes and movements I developed, a baby’s colic is relieved within two weeks. My Colic Relief Routine was included in the curriculum I was developing.

    “Pleasant Touch”

    There are two studies whose results are that “pleasant touch” is good for babies. They say that a gentle touch or caress, deemed “pleasant touch,” stimulates a baby’s senses and induces a response indicative of parent-infant bonding. The data says that new research into the matter now finds that these interactions are not only important for bonding, but that they also build on the child’s social and physiological development.

    One article says “Our results provide physiological and behavioral evidence that sensitivity to pleasant touch emerges early in development and therefore plays an important role in regulating human social interactions.” The findings are important because they show that the implicit meaning of pleasant touch — to stimulate bonding — develops as early as infancy. In turn, these social interactions carry on into adulthood, as many adults lightly caress, or pet, their partner to express love and affection.

    An article in Scientific American reported that children lacking this kind of interaction (“pleasant touch”) — often those who end up in foster care or orphanages — tend to have increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol as they grow older.  High levels of cortisol are present in depression and anxiety disorders. “This lack of affection,” say the researchers, “can result in a child who develops emotional, behavioral, and social problems later in life.”

    Cognitive neuroscientist Merle Fairhurst and colleagues of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, knew that previous studies with adults show that a specific type of touch receptor is activated in response to a particular stroking velocity, leading to the sensation of “pleasant” touch. They hypothesized that this type of response emerges as early as infancy. 

    Strokes of Medium Velocity Work Best

    Babies show unique physiological and behavioral responses to pleasant touch, which helps to cement the bonds between parent and child. For this study, Fairhurst and colleagues had infants sit in their parents’ laps while the experimenter stroked the back of the infant’s arm with a paintbrush. The results showed that the babies’ heart rate slowed in response to the brushstrokes when the strokes were of medium velocity; in other words, the touch of the medium-velocity brush helped to decrease their physiological arousal. The infants’ slower heart rate during medium-velocity brushstrokes was uniquely correlated with the primary caregivers’ own self-reported sensitivity to touch. The more sensitive the caregiver was to touch, the more the infant's heart rate slowed in response to medium-velocity touch. 

    The most engaging response came with the medium-velocity strokes, which not only lowered the babies’ heart rate, but also caused them to become more curious about the brush as it stroked them. Further strengthening the relationship between pleasant touch and parent-child bonding, the researchers found that parents whose self-reported sensitivity to touch was higher were more likely to have children who responded more to the pleasant touch of the paintbrush.

    In my experience, most parents err on the side of too light a stroke, and often need to be encouraged to be a little more firm in their massage. When they know that their baby responds better to a firmer stroke, they gain confidence. I often asked them to think of a cat licking her kittens; the “stroke” is just right; the kittens rely on the mother’s strength to feel grounded and cared-for and if mom doesn’t lick her kittens the right way for the right amount of time, their internal systems decline and they die.

    I encourage parents to go slow, breathe deeply, and establish a rhythm when massaging their infants. Many parents find that the time they spend massaging their babies is a kind of sacred ritual, a kind of mindful prayer or meditation, from which both parent and baby benefit tremendously. Bonds are strengthened, the baby benefits physically with massage helping develop whole-body integration, brain and nervous system are enhanced, circulatory, respiratory, and gastro-intestinal systems are stimulated and grow. Infant massage is truly a “fourth trimester” priority, and most parents continue a massage routine as their babies grow. 



    Written by Vimala McClure

  • 02/26/2019 9:45 AM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    Fifty years ago, dads were relegated to the waiting room as the birth of their child took place behind closed doors. Fast-forward and those doors have been thrown wide open. In some instances, however, fathers are still part of the background, playing a supportive but limited role in the upbringing of their babies. Creating a bond should begin at birth, and research has shown that massage can serve as one of the building blocks for paternal-child bonds.

    Tiffany Field, from the Touch Research Institute in Miami, conducted a study in 2000 that found fathers who massaged their infants were “More expressive and showed more enjoyment and more warmth during floor-play interactions with their infants.” Moreover, fathers who participated in massage experienced increased self-esteem as a parent. Field noted that while the dads reaped benefits, their babies also realized some advantages—they tended to greet the fathers with more direct eye contact, smiled and vocalized more (Early Child Development and Care).

    A study in the Journal of Perinatal Education yielded similar results after observing two groups of 12 infant-father dyads for four weeks. Fathers in the experimental group massaged their babies, while dads in the control group did not. After massaging their infants, the fathers demonstrated a decrease in their stress scores. The authors concluded that infant massage is a “viable option for teaching fathers caregiving sensitivity.” Additionally, the results suggest that fathers who massage their infants experienced “increased feelings of competence, role acceptance, spousal support, attachment and health by decreasing feelings of isolation and depression.”

    In 2013, Mary Kay Keller, CEIM, author, educator, researcher and relationship coach, published her dissertation in which she investigated the benefits fathers perceived they received from massaging their infants. In addition to increased sensitivity and competency, the dads reported greater awareness that they were contributing to the child’s well being. They were also motivated to spend time massaging their infant for two reasons: to give mom a break and to help decrease stress in the baby. They also valued the opportunity to enjoy their baby and the ultimate bond they were creating.

    When a bond is forged early on, the chances for a strong, healthy relationship later in life are increased. As men become more actively involved in their children’s lives, it is worthwhile to explore the benefits massage can provide for both baby and dad.


    Written by: Vimala McClure

  • 01/25/2019 1:39 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    In our Infant Massage classes, we incorporate parents singing to their babies as soon as the parents feel confident in delivering many of the strokes. When I was developing our program, I found that singing a slow, repetitive, rhythmic lullaby helped both myself and my baby to relax and have fun with the massage. I believe it is an important part of the parent-infant bonding that is the cornerstone of Infant Massage, and I believe the recent studies such as the one below confirm that assumption. This was and is a break from the traditional Indian baby massage, which is performed in silence.

    The study by researcher Shannon Delecroix, asks the question: How can mom singing teach her baby to control his/her emotions? Delecroix has spent years studying how a mother’s music can influence a child’s development. She calls it “Infant-Directed Singing” and found that it does more than create a bond; it also helps babies learn focus and self-control. “It also helps babies modulate their arousal level” she says, “so they’re not over- or under-aroused; they’re kind of ‘in the zone’.” 

    One parent said that music helps her structure her infant’s day. “It’s a cue to her when we’re going to start different activities,” she says. “I have certain songs I sing to her when we’re going to start different activities; I have certain songs I sing to her in the morning so she knows it’s time to wake up, others I sing to her at night when it’s time to go to bed.”

    In another study, researchers used a “Jolly Jumper” to study something called “rhythmic entrainment”—when this ability emerges is the focus of this study. Babies are given motion sensors and are exposed to various music and tempos. 

    Delecroix says, “The way the infant responds to a particular musical stimulus tells us a lot about how the human brain is wired.”

    From the moment I incorporated a rhythmic lullaby into our daily massage, I knew it was important. It structures the massage, as singing this lullaby—the one we use most often is the Bengali lullaby “Ami Tomake Balobhasi Baby” (meaning “I love you, my baby”) has a rhythm that goes beautifully with the rhythm of the strokes. I’ve been thinking about the idea of “cues” and wondering, how would it enrich the massage if we had a song for the legs, one for the tummy, one for the chest, etc. The change in songs would be a cue to the baby that“We’re moving to another area.” I think it’s worth studying, though coming up with the right songs for each part of the massage is daunting.

    These studies made me think about it, and confirmed for me that our singing of “Ami Tomake” is spot on.

    More about these studies can be found at http://www.ksat.com/news/Researchers-examine-benefits-of-infant-directed-singing/25681284



    Written by Vimala McClure

  • 12/26/2018 12:14 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    Vision

    Babies get information about the people and things around them by watching. Observing the world helps babies to fine tune the connections between brain cells. By giving babies interesting things to look at, you help their brains’ vision area fully develop. Between 2 and 6 months babies get better at scanning, tracking (following an object with their eyes), and focusing on objects. Babies can see in color, and especially enjoy looking at moving objects such as mobiles or their caregivers’ faces as they interact with them.


    Look at your home from the babies’ point of view. Are there enough interesting things to look at? Is there perhaps too much to look at, making it difficult to focus on one thing at a time? You don’t need to buy fancy toys (like black and white mobiles) for the babies in your care. A set of shiny or colored measuring spoons can be a perfect “mobile” when carefully hung by a piece of elastic. Make sure that your baby sees your face and your expressions. They will be watching your every move. Make eye contact with them and smile a lot.


    Make eye contact during daily routines like feeding and diapering. Eye contact is a powerful and important part of infant massage. Your baby’s visual system is biologically programmed to search out the contrasts in the bull’s-eye shape of the parent’s eyes. Experts say that eye contact is a powerful cue to the infant’s physiological system; the message received by the brain allows it to shut down the production of stress hormones initiated during childbirth. 


    During a massage, the baby is positioned face-to-face with the parent, and the quality of interaction provides a lot of positive feedback, via eye contact, for parent and baby, continually reinforcing the message “It’s okay to relax now.”


    Hearing

    Talking with and singing to babies is very important. As they hear new sounds, the connections in the brain increase and become stronger. Talking with babies helps them eventually learn language and the meaning of words.

    Sharing music also provides important sensory information to the baby’s developing brain. However, constant music may overstimulate some infants or they may tune it out. Talk with your baby. Give them time to respond. They may make their own facial expressions, sounds, and body movements in response, or just make eye contact with you. Sing to your baby. During massage, sing a lullaby such as “Ami Tomake” that has sounds repeated over and over in a slow, rhythmic way. It is clinically proven that parents naturally speak more slowly and in a specialized singsong tone.


    During daily routines, sharing a song with a baby can make an ordinary task into a joyful experience. Don’t worry about what you think of the quality of your voice. Babies don’t judge. They just love to hear your voice. Expose your baby to various styles of music. It’s important though to keep the volume low. Babies’ hearing can be damaged by loud music. Choose music thoughtfully—play different types of music with a variety of rhythms, instruments, and beats. Watch to see what kinds of music your baby prefers.


    Touch

    Touch is an important source of sensory information. A loving touch from parents helps build a sense of trust. Being held in a parent’s arms lets babies know that they are safe, secure, and loved. It is also through touch that babies learn about the properties of the objects in their world (such as their texture and shape). This builds their thinking skills. Respond to your baby’s signals that they need comfort or interaction. They can show their need by crying, fussing, reaching for you, or gazing toward you to engage you.


    Provide other “touch” experiences for the baby. Even at this very early age, a baby needs a variety of tactile experiences. Put him on different surfaces such as towels, blankets with different textures, or straw mats. Rub noses, touch elbows, and pat knees. Let the babies (safely) touch sticky surfaces, smooth surfaces, bumpy surfaces like bubble wrap, and cool surfaces.


    Massaging your baby daily or several times a week has innumerable benefits, the most important of which is bonding. The bonding process is defined by eye contact, skin-to-skin contact, smiling, scent, and soothing sounds from parent to baby. Massage lowers levels of stress hormones for both parent and baby, leading to improved immune system functioning. By continually providing nurturing touch, parents can help facilitate enhanced social, emotional, and physical development for their children from the start.


    Movement

    Movement helps babies learn how to balance and gain control over their bodies. This includes moving side to side as when swaying, moving up and down as when being bounced, and moving back and forth as when walking in someone’s arms.


    Allow your infant to move and develop their physical skills at their pace. Don’t force new skills—for example, holding a baby up to stand will not make the baby walk faster or better. Notice how each baby’s physical skills are growing over time, and give them opportunities to master new skills when you see they are ready.


    Put your older baby in areas on the floor where it is safe to move around. Encourage rolling, crawling, and walking by placing interesting toys close by. Do not use baby walkers. They can lead to an increased risk of accidents. Avoid overusing automatic baby swings as well. Too much time in a swing means that babies are not being held, touched, and played with by a caregiver. This equipment also limits the time babies are able to use their bodies to explore—such as rolling to get closer to a desired person or interesting toy. Avoid “container syndrome,” which is when babies spend too much time in swings, baby chairs, etc. 


    Play

    Babies play by looking, listening, touching, tasting, and moving. As babies play, important sensory information is sent to their growing brains. Playful interactions with parents and siblings are very important as babies learn that their actions have an effect on both the people and objects in their world. Play time with you influences all areas of their development: intellectual, physical, social, and emotional.


    Keep your baby safe. For young babies, play usually means mouthing everything they can get their hands on. Make sure toys are clean and that all choking hazards are removed from the play area. Show pleasure as you play. Stick out your tongue and see if they will copy you. Talk about what you are doing together as you play, and use facial expressions. This provides more information to the baby, which increases engagement and, therefore, her brain power.


    Use routines (changing a diaper, arriving/ departing, massage, and waking from a nap) as chances to pay special attention to your baby. Diaper changing can be a time to “play” with feet, tickle toes and nose, talk about and identify all the baby’s body parts.


    John Medina, in his book Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, has a lot to say about brain development. There is an entire chapter in Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents called “Your Baby’s Brain.”



    Written by Vimala McClure

  • 11/26/2018 6:41 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    It's been suggested in various studies in the past, such as this study conducted by researchers at Evanston Northwestern University and Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, that there are differences between the sexes when it comes to picking up new languages, but what about passing languages on? Does one sex play a larger role in teaching children how to speak?

    Most would infer from the term "mother tongue", usually defined as the language we start speaking first, that language acquisition in children is mostly down to mothers, but that idea could soon be out the window.

    A group of researchers led by Menghan Zhang at the Laboratory of Contemporary Anthropology at the University of Fudan discovered in a study that actually both parents have an influence on language acquisition in children — just on different areas of language.

    It was previously thought language was acquired exclusively from mothers — but that isn't the case

    In 1997, researchers also put forward a theory that opposed the notion of a "Mother Tongue", which proposed that children acquired language from their fathers as opposed to their mothers: in contrast with the "Mother Tongue Hypothesis", the "Father Tongue Hypothesis" states that humans tend to pick up their fathers' language as opposed to their mothers'. The study on which the "Father Tongue Hypothesis" was based was conducted by Estella Poloni and other researchers at Geneva University, who looked at the correlations between language variations and genetic lines from both the mother and the father.

    Estella Poloni, who led the research, established that linguistic variations correlated with the Y chromosome, passed on from the father, and had no correspondence with mitochondrial DNA, passed on only by the mother.

    Maternal mitochondria passed down to children may explain why children try to imitate the sounds their mothers make, rather than their mothers' vocabulary. 


    However, the term "mother tongue" is not a complete misnomer; mothers have a great deal of influence over how infants acquire language.

    Children generally tend to spend more time with their mothers than with their fathers until they reach adolescence, they actually begin to learn their "mother tongue" before they're even born.

    By this point, they're already capable of distinguishing between their own "mother tongue" and a foreign language, and can recognise 800 words. It's not by coincidence that bilingual babies are quick to recognise the sounds of two different languages.

    Essentially, the mother not only imparts speech; she also communicates traditions, behaviours, responsibilities, and everything from which one might argue a culture is comprised. In essence, a mother is passing down not only a language but a culture too.

    According to Zhang's team, the Y chromosome — passed on by fathers — may be responsible for children tending to pick up their fathers' vocabulary.  

    To solve the conundrum of whether language is imparted by the mother or the father, Zhang's team conducted a genetic-linguistic study of 34 modern Indo-European populations , focusing on the respective links present between vocabulary and the paternal Y chromosome, as well as sounds and maternal mitochondrial genes. Unlike previous studies, the researchers characterised the languages based on lexical (vocabulary) and phonemic (sound) systems separately.

    According to Zhang's study, while we assimilate pronunciation and sound from our mothers, we actually acquire our vocabulary from our fathers — a finding which completely contradicts ideas we'd previously held about language acquisition.

    The researchers were able to conclude that there were strong links between paternal genes and lexical characteristics and similarly, that there was a firm correlation between maternal genes and phonemic characteristics.

    It seems the researchers may have dispelled both the "Father Tongue Hypothesis" and the "Mother Tongue Hypothesis" by uniting the both of them.



    Originally posted on Business Insider / Business Insider Italia.

    This story originally appeared on Business Insider Italia and has been translated from Italian.


  • 09/21/2018 2:10 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    Why do people tend to use “baby talk” when speaking to small children. Babies are cute and so we talk in a sweet voice, it’s as simple as that, right?

    Linguists at the University of Edinburgh conducted a lengthy study to see whether or not baby talk has an effect on how a child learns a language and discovered that, surprisingly, speaking in dumbed-down tones and sing-songy words actually have a real purpose.

    The study—which is somewhat humorously titled “Why ‘Choo-Choo’ is better than ‘Train’—followed 47 infants between the ages of 9 months and 21 months. The researchers studied how their parents spoke to the children and tallied the amount of cutesy “baby talk” phrases, such as words ending in “y” (mommy, doggy, etc.) and repetitious words like the aforementioned “choo-choo.”

    The study revealed that infants who are exposed to more of these simple words tend to grasp language better than those who weren’t. The researchers checked the vocabularies of the children at the beginning, the halfway point, and end of the study and found the trend to be consistent.

    The study tells us that baby talk is easier to understand for infants due to its repetitious nature. “Choo-choo” for example is a doubled-up word that is easier for developing minds to grasp while ending many different words with the same sound such as “y” helps them identify essential words and learn them quicker.

    It is amazing that humans have instinctually developed baby talk as a way of communicating with infants despite not knowing exactly why we’re doing it. We're not taught to talk to babies in this way, it comes naturally, and that’s good.



    Originally posted by NY Times


  • 08/24/2018 3:00 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    Not long ago, textbooks on child development taught that infants six months and younger didn’t know, or sense, whether something still exists when it is not where the baby can see it. If a parent was in another room, the baby believed that the parent no longer existed, which is called not having “object permanence.”

    Through a lot of research, psychologists now know that this is untrue and doesn’t apply to young infants. But how much can babies remember, and what specific information must their brains acquire to keep track of things?

    Melissa Kibbe, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins, studied this phenomenon, published in the journal Psychological Science. Babies’ brains have built-in ‘pointers.’ Though they can’t remember details of something they were shown and which was then hidden, these ‘pointers’ help them to hold in their brains a memory even when it is not in sight anymore.

    Kibble commented, “This study addresses one of the classic problems in the study of infant development: What information do infants need to remember about an object to remember that it still exists once it is out of their view? The answer is, minimal.”

    Another discovery is that though babies can’t remember the shapes of two hidden objects, they are surprised when the objects disappear completely. This led the researchers to conclude that infants can remember the existence of something without remembering exactly what that thing is.

    Kibbe, who worked on this study while pursuing her doctorate in Leslie's laboratory at Rutgers, highlights the importance of this discovery, saying that it gives an insight into the brain's mechanisms that support memory in infancy and later.

    She explains,  “Our results seem to indicate that the brain has a set of ‘pointers’ that it uses to pick out the things in the world that we need to keep track of. The pointer itself doesn't give us any information about what it is pointing to, but it does tell us something is there. Infants use this sense to keep track of objects without having to remember what those objects are.”

    They observed that the babies hardly noticed a difference when the objects were swapped, suggesting that they didn’t retain a memory of the object’s shape. In the infant’s mind, a triangle and a disk were virtually identical. When one of these disappeared, the babies were surprised and looked for a more extended period of time at the empty space, suggesting they expected something to be there where they saw something previously. 



    Originally posted by John Hopkins University on ScienceDaily 


  • 07/06/2018 2:27 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    Research by a team of child development experts and psychologist from the University of Amsterdam shows that parents can understand the physical and emotional states of their baby—so-called “mind-minded” parents—help to develop the infant’s capacity to regulate emotion. Most parents want their children to be able to regulate emotions and not give up after disappointment or become unhinged when they don’t get their way.


    Being able to regulate emotions during the first years of life mostly depends on how the parents handle a baby’s emotions. “This led my colleagues and I to wonder about the extent to which certain parental traits contribute to healthy emotional regulation in infants,” says Moniek Zeegers. “We particularly wanted to know whether parents’ mind-mindedness influences the development of an infant’s physiological and emotional regulation throughout the first year of life.”


    Mind-minded parents consider which of their infant’s feelings, thoughts, desires, and preferences explain their behavior. They are able to respond sensitively to the cues their infants give them. The parent more sharply and quickly understands what the baby thinks, feels, needs, and wants, and will respond. For example, mom will put down a rattle the baby is overstimulated. The baby learns to experience emotions not as overwhelming or overpowering. The co-regulation between parent and infant can slowly develop into healthy self-regulation in baby, toddler, and child.


    To discover whether the infants of mind-minded parents are better able to regulate their emotions, Zeegers and fellow researchers studied 116 couples and their newborns. The babies were between 4 and 12 months of age. Mind-Mindedness was measured by analyzing how parents’ language was focused on expressing the infant’s inner state during play. The researchers also examined how well the parents’ words matched their baby’s behavior and accurately reflected the infant’s emotional state. 


    The babies’ emotional regulation was measured on the basis of heart rate variation during a quiet moment as well as a stressful situation such as being picked up by a stranger. Heart rate variation provides information on how flexibly the body can process incoming stimuli. A higher heart rate frequency signals”good” emotion regulation capacity.


    According to Zeegers, “We found that mothers who displayed a high degree of mind-mindedness were more likely to have a baby with a higher heart rate variation during quiet moments, and thus an enhanced emotion regulation capacity. This was found both at 4 and 12 months. The same effect was measured in fathers, but then only at 12 months.” The results show that both parents play important roles in the development of a baby’s ability to regulate emotions. The mothers’ impact is usually visible sooner because generally mother spend more time with their newborns than fathers.



    Originally posted by UVA


  • 06/11/2018 6:35 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    A new study finds that babies love to hear babbling from other babies.

    Researchers found that 5-month-old infants spent 40 percent longer listening to sounds from other infants than to adults making the same sounds. 

    Even before they can create sounds resembling syllables—such as “ba ba”—infants can recognize vowel-like sounds and pay special attention to these sounds when they are made by other infants, the researchers said.


    Study author Linda Polka, a professor at McGill University in Montreal, said these findings give us new insight into “how infants develop their understanding of spoken language -- what they bring innately and what is shaped by their experience as listeners and as ‘talkers-in-training.’”

    In a news release from the Acoustical Society of America, Polka said, “Access to infant speech, likely including a baby’s own vocalizations, seems to have a broad and significant impact, influencing receptive, expressive and motivational aspects of speech development.” She emphasized that it’s important for parents to use “baby talk” with their infants because little ones do respond well to it, and it is an important part of developing speech.

    “Infants’ own vocalizations are quite potent. Infant speech seems to capture and hold infant attention, sometimes prompting positive emotions. This may motivate infants to be vocally active and make it easier to evaluate their own vocalizations, energizing and supporting spoken language development,” Polka said.


    Originally posted on HealthDay
  • 05/07/2018 2:00 PM | Administrative Director (Administrator)

    A study by the University of Iowa and Indiana University found that how a parent responds to baby’s “babbling” can shape the way babies communicate and use vocalization. Researchers  say that parents who consciously engage with their infants can accelerate their children’s language learning. The currently held belief is that human communication is innate and can’t be influenced by parental feedback.

    What researchers found is that infants whose mothers responded to what they thought their babies were saying showed an increase in developmentally advanced -vocalizations, which means the babbling has become sophisticated enough to sound like words. The babies also began directing more of their communication toward their mothers.

    Infants whose mothers did not try as much to understand them and directed their infants’ attention to something else did not show the same rate of growth in their language and communication skills. The difference was that mothers who engaged with their babies when they babbled let their babies know they could communicate. Consequently, those babies turned more often to their mothers and babbled. 

    This is great news, but no news to most parents who massage their infants. In our classes, instructors encourage parents to respond to their babies, and parents use the time when babies are most concentrated while receiving their massage to sing a lullaby that is rhythmically in tune with massage strokes. Infant massage is a time when parents are focused on listening to their babies, engaged with their communication, both when it is vocal and when babies are communicating with “body language.” Even when a baby is crying, you can speak to him, letting the baby know that you understand what he is “saying.” The more parents practice engaging with their babies’ vocalizations, the better they get at understanding them, and the more babies relax and feel understood.

    Especially with my first child, I was uber-engaged with him. I was developing my Infant Massage course and paid special attention to what he was “saying,” and I responded, giving back what I thought he was communicating. He was speaking in sentences by nine months of age, reading by age three.


    By Vimala McClure

    Information on the original study can be found here





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