The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant’s crying, a developmental stage that will pass. New parents receive tiny purple hats to raise awareness for the PURPLE crying program. “A baby can never die from crying, but they can die from being shaken,” says Stephen Scott, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa.
Infant massage can help address each of the tips laid out in the PURPLE crying program:
P — Peak of crying: Your newborn may cry more each week; the most at two months, then less at four to five months. Infant Massage: Your newborn is not fully developed at birth and has a very sensitive digestive and respiratory system. Being in a new environment, with food given in a completely new way is stressful, and this new way of digesting can be painful. Parents can relax themselves, warm the atmosphere, and gently massage the baby’s tummy (using the clockwise strokes given in Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents), then provide rhythmic comfort. It is okay for you to step away if you can’t handle the crying; let your baby know you are there, swaddle baby for comfort, and allow him/her to cry until you are calm enough to provide relaxing care.
U — Unexpected: Your newborn may cry more each week; the most at two months, then less at four to five months. Infant Massage: If you are able to massage your baby, this crying period may be considerably less in duration or not at all. The baby needs help in getting his/her digestive system “up to speed” and then there will be little or no crying.
R — Resists soothing: Your baby may not stop crying no matter what you do. Infant Massage: If your baby doesn’t respond to massaging the tummy area and rhythmic soothing, he/she may carry stress from the birth experience, and may need to cry, as crying is the only means of communication he/she has. After you calm yourself, stay with your crying baby, using swaddling, rhythmic soothing such as rocking or walking and patting his/her back rhythmically. When possible, introduce massage, starting with the legs and moving to the tummy, gently and rhythmically stroking with a light natural oil; sing or talk to your baby and make eye contact when you can.
P — Pain-like face: A crying baby may look like he’s in pain, even though he’s not. Infant Massage: If a crying baby looks like he’s in pain, he probably is. Massage the legs and tummy every day using the strokes suggested in Infant Massage, a Handbook for Loving Parents. Of course, first step away and calm yourself.
L — Long lasting: Crying can last as much as five hours a day or more. Infant Massage: When massage is delivered properly and daily, it is unusual for crying to last more than a couple of hours a day. Regardless, remember that crying is your baby’s only way to “talk,” and if necessary step away and relax yourself. Crying is okay.
E — Evening: Your baby may cry more in the late afternoon and evening. Infant Massage: If you can massage the baby in the early afternoon, it will help the baby release built-up tension and thus the need to cry in the evening (the “five o’clock fussies”).
By Vimala McClure
Contact: Maggie Reardon, email@example.com
Venue: Erikson Institute
Address: 451 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL, United States Map
Cost: $325 before Oct. 10, $350 after
The Erikson Institute’s Fussy Baby Network® and Infant Massage USA® are partnering to offer a one-of-a-kind, two-day, advanced training continuing education workshop for Certified Educators of Infant Massage (CEIMs).
Participants will learn the Fussy Baby Network’s FAN approach to parent engagement. The FAN approach offers professionals a framework to guide interactions with parents, particularly when parents have an urgent concern about their baby and/or are experiencing high levels of stress.
CEIMs will gain skills to support parents in their Infant Massage classes who are experiencing early regulation issues such as excessive crying, disrupted sleep, feeding issues or general fussiness. Training in the FAN approach guides professionals to understand what might be most helpful to parents in the moment, and how to respond in a way that matches their baby’s needs. Additionally, this advanced training will provide Infant Massage Educators with more insight into infant regulation based on Heidi Als’ Synactive Theory of Development.]]>
Of the 72 papers identified, 19 were randomized controlled trials, 16 were quasi-experimental studies, and 37 were non-intervention studies. The abstract noted that being taught behavioral assessment scales, breastfeeding, kangaroo care, and baby massage, all helped the parents feel supported. In addition, infant massage reduces hospital stay and occurrence of sepsis (toxic spread of bacteria) in very preterm infants.
For several years I was fortunate to work with a pediatric practice in Denver, Colorado, USA. The pediatricians would refer parents to me when they had premature infants or infants with colic. When I was working with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I would meet the parent(s) at the hospital and spend a few minutes introducing myself and explaining what we would be doing. I would have written information for them to take home, and would answer any questions they had before we started.
For infant massage Instructors, it is helpful to introduce themselves and some materials about infant massage for preterm babies, offering their services in teaching parents how to massage a premature infant. Often the NICU staff haven’t heard of the differences we apply in these cases, and so turn down massage as being too stressful for the babies. Once they understand what you are doing and you have presented materials to them such as studies of preterm infants and massage, you can provide them with materials that they can give to parents as referrals with your information on them.
We have information in our Instructor Handbook on how to go about setting up a session or group of sessions for a premature baby and parent. Usually, we start by simply relaxing ourselves, then cupping the baby’s back or front (whichever presents) with closed hands together. We call this “Resting Hands,” and though it looks very simple, it is a powerful way to connect skin-to-skin, letting your deep relaxation move through your hands to the baby. Then you can add gentle stroking of the legs and feet. The massage continues, with variations considering the baby’s state. We suggest parents or caregivers go very slowly, with Resting Hands beginning each session, very gentle and slow stroking, and a keen awareness of the baby’s cues as they continue.
By Vimala McClure
“What we found,” says Lorber, “is that babies who are only a couple of weeks old can pick up on parents’ bad behavior.” “Parenting during infancy really seemed to matter.”
267 mothers were studied, looking at interaction with their babies during feeding times. Mothers who showed disgust in their facial expressions, spoke in harsh tones, or handled their babies roughly had children who acted out years later in kindergarten and first grade.
This study is part of a 30-year research project. Scientists also found negative reactions continued into adulthood; children who experienced negative parenting in infancy have a higher risk of entering the criminal justice system later in life.
Parents need to realize how much their behavior has an impact on their babies from birth. I believe scientists are going to be finding that this cycle happens even earlier; as technology develops, we’ll find substantial research to show that parents’ negative behavior affects infants in utero.
Infant massage can help alleviate these problems if parents are encouraged to massage their little ones early in life. It sets a pattern of loving, playful interaction and can help parents to see how large an impact their behavior has on their children.
By Vimala McClure
When I took my babies in for procedures such as immunization, I used infant massage as a way to mitigate the scariness and pain of the procedure, and it was well received and helped immensely. I would massage the area to be “pricked” for several minutes, increasing blood flow to that area, then move the massage to an all-over regular massage, which would make my baby feel calm and relaxed. Then I would hold him, and continue rubbing whatever area I could (explaining my plan to the doctor) while the procedure was done. My baby would have very little reaction to the procedure, except to want to be nursed afterward.
I hope at some point this could be a subject for researching; not all mothers breastfeed their babies, especially after six months. But infant massage can go on for a year or more. The researchers that conducted this study found that babies who could breastfeed during the procedure had significantly lower behavioral pain scores. Time taken for the procedure was significantly shorter, making blood collection more efficient.
“Finding creative ways to apply breastfeeding for pain mitigation in premature infants is important, because recent research suggests that sweetening agents used to reduce minor procedural pain may act as sedatives rather than analgesics, and they may have negative effects on development,” says Professor Holsti. “Our findings support further research on the effects of breastfeeding over repeated events to assess both the short- and long-term benefits of the treatment.”
Infant massage, as well, should be researched as a way to reduce minor procedural pain.
By Vimala McClure
According to the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, infants are especially susceptible to hearing damage from loud noises because their skulls are thinner, not fully developed. Noises that can harm a baby include sounds from loud toys like cap guns, speaking dolls, cars with sirens, musical instruments, and the loud noises of concerts. Some toys can inflict as much as 120 decibels of exposure, which is equivalent to hearing a jet plane take off, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Parents can take precautions such as buying noise-canceling headphones when going to places that could be loud, such as movie theaters, public festivals and concerts. My suggestion is to keep an infant sheltered from the loud, fast-paced world for at least six months to a year. Rudolf Steiner, of the Waldorf School movement, says that infants should be kept as closely to the womb-like environment as possible. He suggest hanging soft-colored sheer cloth around baby’s crib, keeping baby close to mother as long as possible, have family members agree to approach a newborn with great care — gently holding and carrying, speaking softly, guarding this new precious being, slowing introducing him/her to the world outside. I agree. The idea is to strive to make the baby’s environment as womb-like as possible; after all, our babies are not fully grown when they are born. It takes another nine months before he/she is ready for the stimulus of busy, stress-inducing life outside the womb.
by Vimala McClure
Recently, studies have shown that children whose mothers were overly stressed during pregnancy are themselves more vulnerable to anxiety as a result. “High levels of stress hormones may cross the placenta and affect the baby in the womb in a way that carries long-term implications,” UK scientists believe. “Several human studies of children and adults suggest that elevated levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone) are associated with psychological risk, notably depression and anxiety. Our findings point to a possible mechanism by which pre- and postnatal stress or anxiety may predict these disturbances in their babies’ early adolescence, and possibly into adulthood.”
Recent studies of rhesus monkeys showed they grew up anxious and antisocial after the stress of separation from their mothers. These studies were unique in showing that the negative effects of separation in infancy cannot be reversed by a later normal social life. Dr. Andrea Danese of King’s College London, said, “If you take studies in humans who have experienced loss I think the findings are quite consistent. Children who are separated from parents tend to show more anxious behavior, they have poorer social skills and more aggressive behavior. Adults with a history of childhood maltreatment have elevated inflammation levels. Inflammation is one of the key factors that contribute to a number of conditions including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.”
Relaxing and slowing down are not just “nice” suggestions. Scientists conducting these studies say that new mothers need to learn to relax and take life more slowly. They suggest that antenatal classes could help new mothers. Partners can also help. Criticizing his partner for not slowing down is not helpful. Asking if he can do tasks she usually does to help lighten her load is helpful. To truly be with children of any age, we all must have the ability to slow ourselves down and relax into the present moment, because that is where our children live.
by Vimala McClure
Before I had my children, I was a yoga practitioner and teacher. When I had my first baby, I assumed my life would go on as before. I had meditated 6 hours a day since I was 20 (1972), and in 1976 I had my first baby. I was in for a rude awakening, when my baby required all of my time and energy, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I missed my meditation time, and missed the solitary quiet of my practice. However, I refused to accept that I could no longer meditate. I knew my new life required that I change.
There is a practice in yoga called “madhuvidya” or “sweet knowledge,” and I turned to this. It means you can find everything as an expression of the Infinite, and make your everyday life a meditation. The experience I described above made me see that my baby was an expression of meditation. Spending spiritual time with him was just as enlightening and uplifting, if not more, than my long hours of concentrating alone with my eyes closed had been. Those long hours helped me as a new mother, when I needed focused concentration and patience.
Our daily massage was another opportunity to meditate with my baby. After we had resolved the colic issue, he loved being massaged, and gazed, smiling, into my eyes for much of the massage. Afterward I felt as if I had been sitting in the lap of the Divine.
by Vimala McClure
Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia and asthma. They are less likely to become obese, and breastfeeding reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. As for moms, they lose their baby weight quicker and have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Families can save up to $1500 in formula costs for the first year, and a study in the Journal of Pediatrics estimates that if 90% of families breastfed for the first six months, the U.S. would save $13 billion a year from reduced medical and other costs. It’s good for the environment; no empty containers of formula to recycle or put in landfills.
This information wasn’t circulated when I breastfed my babies. It just felt like the right thing to do. I breastfed continuously for six years, and I’m so glad I did. But my daughter looks at me in horror when I tell her this; she breastfed her new baby for four months and then quit, citing the time and energy it took. I don’t know if it’s because the times have changed or what. It seems that many mothers today don’t want to be “tied down” to a breastfeeding infant when, if by using formula, they can hand the baby over to other caregivers. The speed of life is certainly a factor. In spite of all the wonderful benefits derived by breastfeeding, being able to keep up with the pace of life today is an important factor.
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, life must slow down when a new baby arrives. Incorporating infant massage into daily routines can help supplement breastfeeding’s benefits, while decreasing the time and energy needed to breastfeed.
by Vimala McClure
“Baubles hung over a crib catch infant’s eye, but this is not audiovisual communication,” he said. “It is a form of entertainment, better than a blank wall perhaps, but a poor excuse for that face and all that goes with it. Far better than crib and bangle-dangling is the snugli for ‘baby wearing.’ Not the outward-facing child carrier, which offers no face for communication and gives the infant a feeling of constant falling forward. The snugli with that magical face and heart six to twelve inches away, works best by far. Communication involves eyes and voice, a voice to which the infant has responded since the fifth month in utero.”
I have always felt that the best mobile for a baby to gaze at, besides his mother’s face, is the gentle waving of leaves on a tree, the ocean moving over the sand, his siblings playing, and other natural things of which he is a part.
<em><a href=”http://www.iaim.net”>First published at www.iaim.net.</a> Published with permission from the International Association of Infant Massage.</em>
Copyright Vimala McClure 2012. Please contact the IAIM Webmaster for permission to use this article.
by Vimala McClure