By Ruth Forbes
Published by McGraw-Hill Education, 2004
Reviewed by Natsumi Shinohara
In this book, the author discusses how parents or early childhood care practitioners need to facilitate babies or young children’s play experience by paying attention to the babies’ developmental aspects and the importance of interaction between babies and adults.
One of the descriptions I found interesting was about how the sensory experiences, especially in playful manners, contribute to the babies’ development with delight and pleasure. It was explained that babies use all of their senses to explore their environment: touching, tasting, smelling, looking, and hearing. These senses allow babies to advance their understanding about their world and assimilate information they obtain from the sensory play experiences. It is also said that babies need rich play experiences coordinated with the sensory stimulations and involved the emotions of the adults who are interacting with the babies. These play experiences, when repeated over a period of time actually help the baby’s brain to build the neural connections, which boosts the brain function.
The fact that any kind of sensory experiences helps babies explore and learn their world supports the basic approach of the infant massage. Infant massage mainly aims to promote the bonding process between the baby and his/her parents, stimulate the baby’s cognitive development, and enhance the baby’s physical and emotional relaxation. The knowledge of the power of babies’ sensory experiences including touch, sounds, smell, taste, and vision brings about further understanding of how to involve all of these senses in the infant massage period.
For example, I would suggest the parents talk to their baby during massage and tell him/her the body part where they are giving massage, as this will help the baby learn what his/her body is like by being touched and talked by someone he/she trusts. It is my responsibility as an infant massage instructor/educator to teach the parents that the infant massage program is not just a physical intervention, but a holistic approach which enhances well-being of both babies and their parents by utilizing the baby’s every sensory experience. Babies are able to actively participate in the massage feeling the touch, listening to their parent’s voice, looking at their parent’s face, and realizing their parent’s smell. As a result, the massage goes far beyond just a physical activity, to a reciprocal interactive experience, which brings various benefits to both babies and their parents. When parents know this, they will be able to fully understand how to approach their babies in or out of the massage time.