Empowering workers to support parents to explore and develop confidence in tuning in to their baby.
Without their own childhood experiences of being held, nurtured and cared for, some parents and caregivers have limited experience to draw from when it comes to looking after their own children. This includes the ability to ‘tune in’ to their newborn. Being tuned in is the means by which parents communicate with their baby – noticing, understanding, and responding to their cues with touch, voice, movement, eye contact and facial expressions. This interaction is crucial for laying the foundation for the infant’s present and future physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Importantly, research suggests that one of the best ways to reduce, or even eliminate, some of the earliest risks for later wellbeing issues is to provide programs that support parents and caregivers to tune in to their baby. The Institute’s Cue-Based Infant Massage and Parent-Infant Relationship Education training qualify individuals to do just that. It provides them with the skills to deliver the evidence-based First Touch Program to new parents, supporting them to explore and develop confidence in tuning in to their baby using sensitive and responsive interactions that suit their own parenting style and choices.
Notably, rather than teaching a one-size-fits-all approach, individuals can also adapt the Program to teach infant massage in other settings and ultimately transform the ways that some of the most vulnerable families in our community are being cared for. Recent development of a culturally appropriate infant massage program by Indigenous Children and Schooling Program (a service of Relationships Australia SA) workers Eileen Wanganeen and Karina Mitchell, who are also qualified First Touch Program Instructors, has played a significant role in increasing the wellbeing of parents and their infants across communities in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjara (APY) lands. The skills and changes that occurred as a result of their recent work have not only resulted in a new baby being able to stay safely with his mother and connected to his community and culture, but have enabled the mother’s other children to be returned to her safely.