Infant Massage Technique
The first five years of our lives is where everything starts, they are so crucial and are fundamentally important. If we have an overall positive experience from zero to five, it makes us stronger and more resilient to dealing with whatever life throws at us later in life.
Andrea Vargas, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselor and a registered play therapist emphasized how touch is such an important factor for attachment and the physical and emotional development of a child during this zero to five stage.
She shared an experiment where a lot of the attachment theories were stemmed from. The experiment was done with the monkeys who were divided into different cages. One monkey had a mother made of just wires and where the monkeys will get their milk or food from. Then there’s another monkey whose mom is a wire covered in cloth, making it more comforting than the other wired monkey. Even if the wired mom monkey is the one providing food and water, the monkeys still wouldn’t stay there. They would only go there for food and would eventually go to the clothed mom monkey where they feel safe and comfortable.
Even with adults that are in hospitals, there were studies where people who received massages got better quicker than those who didn’t receive any massage. As people, as adults and teenagers, we need touch. Touch is such an important piece not just in the physical but also in the emotional development of a child or a person.
Common Misconceptions about Attachment Parenting
Unfortunately, there has been some misconceptions about attachment parenting. This can be attributed to someone encouraging parents to “let a baby cry it out” which a lot of people assumed was true but is actually not what parents or caregivers are supposed to do. Some of the most common misconceptions as shared by Andrea are:
- Attachment parenting is black and white. The way we live right now has made moms think of attachment parenting as just the need to being close to their child and co-sleeping.
- The need to have the child get used to not being so close to them. This can be because of their work or that they need to leave the child very early to the daycare. Some would even go to the extreme of not wanting to baby-wear and deciding to put their child in the crib from the get-go.
- This whole idea that an independent baby is a good baby.
- In some cultures, people don’t recommend being too attached to the baby because they will get used to it.
- Attachment parenting is seen as doing “too much” that the parents would loose their independence.
The Importance of Touch in Our Development
While some people are concerned their child might get too attached, if we look into other cultures and during the prehistoric era, moms carry their babies attached to their body and there is a lot of co-sleeping, which don’t often happen these days.
Here are some of the importance of touch in a person’s development.
- It makes a child feel more confident. Andrea explains that the more you baby your baby and have them be more attached to you, the more confident they will feel. And when they get older, the more they become independent because they grow up feeling confident about themselves. If the need for touch is not provided early on in life, insecurity develop and insecure people do not feel confident to do things, they are not the most independent.
- They can regulate themselves and their emotions better. For the most parts as adults, we know how to calm ourselves down when we become upset. And we learned this from when we were infants. Even as adults, we seek co-regulation. When we come home from a stressful day at work, we want the person we’re talking to about our issue to just us a hug or comfort us. If our parent was not good at regulating themselves, it makes it really hard for a child to learn how to regulate themselves.
Read Part II of the blog HERE to get information about the Infant Massage Technique and some recommendations on how you can practice it at home.
If you want to listen to this amazing episode with Andrea Vargas, LMHC, please visit https://www.thebeyondresiliencelife.com/blog/infant-massage-technique